Chickenpox Shingles

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Chickenpox’s Evil Cousin: Shingles

Chickenpox and shingles are related. They are caused by similar viruses, both in the herpesvirus family. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant (“asleep”) in your nerve roots for many years, unless it is awakened by some triggering factor such as physical or emotional stress. When awakened, it presents itself as shingles rather than chickenpox.

Shingles is marked by pain and often a blister-like rash on one side of your body, left or right. Other symptoms can include headache and flu-like symptoms. Shingles typically runs its course in three to five weeks.

Although very painful, most people who get shingles will recover without serious complications and will not get it a second time. However, in people with weakened immune systems, shingles complications can be severe or life threatening. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, where the pain may last for months or even years after the rash has healed. The pain is caused by damaged nerve fibers, which then persist in sending pain messages to your brain.

Other less frequent complications include bacterial skin infections, Hutchinson’s sign, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, motor neuropathy, meningitis, hearing loss, blindness, and bladder impairment.

A person with shingles can infect someone who hasn’t had chickenpox, who may then develop chickenpox rather than shingles.

If you do develop shingles  you can use topical honey to treat shingles symptoms and it appears to work better than the drugs.