Shingles, herpes zoster, is a very contagious and painful rash, or blister that appears on the skin. These rashes most commonly appear on the sides of the body in stripes. The stripes are made up of many very painful blisters caused by a certain type of virus. The varicella zoster, most commonly known as the chicken pox virus attacks the nerve roots in that area. The herpes zoster virus is in the herpes family, including HSV, herpes simple virus, which causes cold sores, fever blisters, and genital herpes. (WebMD, 2011) Most people are required to get the chicken pox shot when they are children although some do not. The chicken pox shot helps to keep out the virus by keeping it dormant in the nerves. The varicella zoster virus stays in a few cells; this is how shingles appear suddenly. It appears when the dormant cells become active in the later years of life.
It is not known why the inactive cells suddenly become active again although scientists and doctors have narrowed down the most common targets of shingles. Those primary targets are people over the age of sixty, those who are stricken with chicken pox before the age of one, and those whose immune systems are not strong enough to fight off any illnesses.
The immune system of a human can be weakened by a few things, but mainly illnesses and some medications such as chemotherapy and radiation. Approximately one million people a year are diagnosed with shingles, but this only accounts for the people that went to the doctor. People over the age of sixty are twice as likely to get shingles then those under sixty. The chance of getting shingles rises with age, after 60 it rises much faster. (http://www.shinglesinfo.com/risk-factors.html, 2011)
If a child or adult has been exposed to shingles, they need to be cognizant of the symptoms of shingles and chicken pox. Children exposed to shingles are more likely to get chicken pox than shingles. Some of the first symptoms of shingles may include intense side pain, itching, tingling, and burning. The symptoms most commonly appear before the rashes or blisters. Then red patches on the skin form. These turn into clusters of blisters in stripes most commonly on the sides of the torso, but may appear on the eyes, face, mouth, and ears. The blisters break soon after this leaving the skin open to ulcers forming. The ulcers form a crust or scab to protect it. The scab will fall off in approximately two to three weeks. Scarring usually does not exist. Additional symptoms include chills, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, headache, joint pain, and difficulty moving some facial muscles.
If a woman is exposed to shingles during her pregnancy, and acquires shingles, her pregnancy may be complicated. The mother may get very sick, and the baby may get chicken pox right away or within a few days of birth. If the pregnant woman has shingles within a few days before birth this can be very bad for the baby. The newborn baby might not be able to handle all the...