Many people can remember to a time when they were a little kid and tiny little red bumps began to form on different locations of their skin. The small bumps began to spread and began to itch. Remembering the pink color of the calamine lotion that was used to soothe the itching sensation, realizing that these bumps were chicken pox. It is common knowledge that once a person contracts chicken pox and the outbreak clears up, the person will not get an outbreak again. Yet there are unknown complications that may develop later in life from having the chicken pox. Herpes zoster (Zoster), or commonly known as Shingles, is one of these complications. Not only is this a very painful condition, but can lead to other complications as well.
Shingles is a rash on the skin that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. The rash is extremely painful and is accompanied with many additional symptoms. Often the first symptoms are usually only located on one side and include tingling, pain, or burning sensations around these areas. The second symptom of Shingles is a red rash that develops in patches on the skin. Finally the rash then develops into small blisters that end up bursting, drying out, and then flaking off. Other common symptoms include abdominal pain, general ill feeling, headaches, and joint pain (Sampathkumar, P., et al, 2009).
Chicken pox, or varicella-zoster, lies dormant in a person’s cerebral ganglia or in the ganglia of the posterior nerve roots after the person has an outbreak. Typically the virus will remain dormant for the rest of the person’s life, without a reoccurrence. Although there are instances when the virus will “awaken” or become active again, and will reveal itself as herpes zoster. This is typically only seen in individuals that had chicken pox before the age of one, a person above the age or 50, or an individual with a compromised immune system due to medications or illness. A few other things that may cause this outbreak are trauma and stress (American Academy of Dermatology, 2006).
As stated, a course of Shingles often begins with a burning sensation, leading to small blisters that burst, scab, and then disappear. This entire process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Shingles often clear up on its own without any medical assistance or topical creams. Treatments for outbreaks that do not clear up on their own; often include cold compresses, oral anti-viral medications, and corticosteroid creams. A person who has an outbreak of Shingles typically only has one to three outbreaks in their lifetime (Mandell GL., et al, 2009).
There have been, however, cases where the scabs disappear yet the pain continues even after the rash is gone. In some cases, this pain associated with the herpes zoster virus lasts for years. The continuous pain is called Post-herpetic neuralgia (Nordqvist, C., 2009).
Post-herpetic neuralgia is a severe pain along the route of...