Shingles is a viral disease characterized by a severe skin rash with blisters in a localized area, which is also known as zoster or herpes zoster.

Usually, the rash appears in either the left or right side of the body or face in a long, broad line

In the area, tingling or local pain may occur two to four days before the rash occurs. There are normally no symptoms however, although some may have fever or headache, or may feel tired. Rash typically recovers in two to four weeks, but some people develop chronic nerve pain that can last for months or years, which is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Shingles are caused by a reactivation in a person’s body of the varicella zoster virus (VZV)

The condition of varicose veins is caused by the original VZV infection. Once the varicela has been resolved, the virus in nerve cells can remain inactive. This travels from the nerve body to the ends of the skin when it reactivates, causing blisters. Reactivation risk factors include old age, impaired immune function, and having had varicose veins before the age 18. It is not well known how the virus persists in the body and reactivates afterwards. For somebody who hasn’t had it, but won’t trigger shingles, exposure to the virus in the blisters could cause chickenpox.

Depending on the vaccine used, the shingles vaccine reduces the risk of shingles by 50% to 90%

It also reduces postherpetic neuralgia levels and its frequency when shingles occur. When shingles grow, antiviral drugs such as aciclovir can minimize disease severity and length when they begin within 72 hours of the rash appearance. Evidence does not suggest any significant effect on postherpetic neuralgia levels of antivirals or steroids. For deal with acute pain, paracetamol, NSAIDs, and opioids may be used.

Increases in herpes zoster (HZ) incidence have been recorded in Australia and around the world

This may reflect the influence of vaccination programs for childhood VZV launched uniformly in Australia at the end of 2005.

Over age and over time, both data sources showed increased HZ levels

The GP report showed a significant annual increase of 2.5 per 100,000 HZ experiences between 1998 and 2013 and a 4.2 percent increase in HZ prescribing rates between 2002 and 2012 per year. The frequency of HZ in the 60+ population was estimated to rise from 11.9 to 15.4 per 1,000 people using GP data or from 12.8 to 14.2 per 1,000 people using prescription data (p<0.05, between the two periods). Hospitalization data did not show the same upward trend over time, except for the 80-year age group. Most HZ emergency visits have not been admitted and have shown substantial increases over time.

In Australia, the strain of HZ is important and continues to rise over time

This rise is seen in pre-and post-universal vaccination with VZV in 2005 and is most pronounced in the older population. Together with ageing of the Australian population and the importance of healthy ageing, the substantial burden of HZ warrants consideration of HZ vaccination for the elderly.

An extraordinary question is whether the HZ epidemiology changes over time

The frequency of HZ will be determined by the proportion of the previously infected population and factors influencing reactivation. Hope-Simpson believed that varicella exposure naturally improves resistance to the zoster virus, thereby preventing HZ reactivation. On this basis, modeling indicates that reduced exposure to wild-type varicella in countries with universal varicella immunization may result in an increased incidence of HZ for 30–50 years after the implementation of the program.

In Australia, children from 12 months of age began VZV vaccinations in 2000 and in November 2005 a mandatory 18-month VZV vaccination was introduced. More recently, a vaccine has become available to prevent HZ and PHN. The live attenuated Oka-strain HZ vaccine is 14 times more effective than the varicella vaccine and is available and approved to adults aged 50 years and over who are immunocompetent. The Shingles Prevention Study (SPS) found that this vaccine has an efficacy against HZ, PHN and an HZ measurement burden of 51%, 66.5% and 61% over 3 years of follow-up, respectively.

Published by Archer Fowler

My special interests: erectile dysfunction, urology, male health, alopecia.

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8 Comments

  1. I have had Herpes Zoster virus since I was a child due to my weakened immune system. My parents tell me that in 2001, when I was born, I had contact with a cousin who was with virius. Everyone discovered after extensive research to try to understand how the transmission took place. In my case, I feel a terrible pain in the nerves and get older sooner. I am currently 23 years old and I hope one day to get rid of him and have a normal life.

  2. My mother in law suffers from Herpes Zoster. It has prevented her spending time with all her grandchildren, including my kids due to the discomfort and pain. She has mentioned that when she seeks help and gets medication that it goes away for periods at a time. But that relieve of it being cleared up does not last very long and she is back to feeling pain. I wish she would find a permanent solution because living with Herpes Zoster does not seem easy, for her sake and ours as well.

  3. I have some problems with Herpes Zoster. It has made my life difficult ever since it appeared on me. I don’t know what to do. Medication doesn’t seem to be helping much. I am doing everything I can to control it, but it’s just… not working.

  4. Hepes Zoster is really putting a toll on my life. I have multiple breakouts every year, and I still haven’t found a medication that can keep them permanently under control.

  5. I contracted this three years ago and it’s been so frustrating. The blisters are so painful and I was getting desperate to help or at least relief. I asked my doctor about my options recently and finally think I’ve found something that might work.

  6. Herpes Zoster is a sexually transmitted disease that affects thousands of people worldwide, and one of the ways to avoid cantamination is by using a condom. Take care, love yourself, preserve yourself!

  7. I have had Herpes Zoster for over 4 years. I am lucky that that it has not flared up much at all. When it does flare up I have to get medication to treat it. The medication I use is Valtrex.

  8. Herpes Zoster is one of the many problems I have experienced. It got bad to a point that I thought it was incurable until I met a doctor who took time to help me get rid of it.

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