Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Herpes Zoster

Herpes zoster, or shingles, is an extremely painful condition which affects a large number of people across the globe. It is a viral infection characterized by painful rashes, fluid filled blisters, nerve pain, burning sensation, numbness, itching, fever, sensitivity to light or touch, headache and fatigue. All these signs generally affect only a small section of one side of the torso. Knowing the dos and don’ts for herpes zoster is important to manage the condition better and provide some relief to the patient.

Herpes zoster is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for causing chickenpox. Anyone who has suffered from chickenpox faces a greater risk of developing herpes zoster. Once an individual recovers from chicken pox, the virus enters their nervous system and stays dormant in the nerve tissues near the brain and spinal cord, for years. Then the virus may get reactivated and travel along nerve pathways to the skin to produce shingles.

The most important dos and don’ts for herpes zoster revolve around the spread of infection. A patient of herpes zoster can pass the varicella-zoster virus to someone who is not immune against chickenpox. People can easily get infected on coming in direct contact with the open sores on the body of the herpes zoster patient. However, once infected, the person first develops chickenpox and not shingles. Also, certain diseases and medications, cancer treatment and being older than 50 years are some factors which increase ones risk of developing shingles. Herpes zoster is associated with complications like neurological problems, post-herpetic neuralgia, vision loss and skin infections.

Dos & Don'ts For Herpes Zoster

Dos & Don'ts for Herpes Zoster

Herpes zoster is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and medical history of the patient. The doctor can check the blisters and rashes on the patient’s body and may also conduct a lab examination of a tissue scraped from the blisters to confirm the diagnosis. There is no cure for zoster herpes, so prevention is the best remedy. This is mainly where the knowledge of dos and don’ts for herpes zoster is applied. With better health and immunity, the infection can be prevented to some extent, while herpes patients can help prevent its spread.

Also, herpes zoster can be prevented by vaccines. The two vaccines which can help to prevent herpes zoster are the varicella vaccine and varicella-zoster vaccine. However, shingles can be managed with proper and prompt treatment.

Certain prescription antiviral drugs, prove useful in speeding up the recovery and reducing the risk of complications in herpes zoster patients.
Herpes zoster is accompanied by severe pain and so the doctor can also prescribe certain anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids, capsaicin topical patch or some pain relieving creams to ease the problem.

This disease generally lasts for 2 to 6 weeks. Most people contract herpes zoster only once in life, but there is a possibility of getting the disease again. An individual can’t prevent contracting herpes zoster since this infection is not acquired from someone with shingles or chickenpox. One gets this disease from their own chickenpox virus, hence some dos and don’ts for herpes zoster are essential.

Along with medications, there are certain dos and don’ts herpes zoster to ease its symptoms and prevent its spread.

Dos for Herpes Zoster

Here are the dos for herpes zoster.

Applying warm compression on the affected part, for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, at least 5-6 times every day, can help to relieve the symptoms. Cool wet compressions can also prove useful in easing the pain. These are some of the safest dos for herpes zoster.

One of the essential dos for herpes zoster is that herpes patients should keep their skin clean and rash uncovered. They should be gentle with the blisters and avoid scratching them. Compressing the vesicles or crusts with a mixture of white vinegar and luke warm water, for about 15 minutes daily, can soothe the affected area and help the blisters dry up faster.

Once the scab from the sores fall off, the skin often becomes very dry, stretched and cracked. To prevent this and to nourish the skin, rubbing some coconut oil on their skin for 4-5 times daily.

Items of personal use, which cannot be discarded should be used only after they are disinfected by washing in boiling water or through other means of disinfection. This is a very important part of the dos for herpes zoster, to avoid spread of infection.

Don’ts for Herpes Zoster

Here are the don’ts for herpes zoster.

Herpes patients should not share their used articles with others, and never re-use contaminated articles. This is a very important tip from the don’ts for herpes zoster, to prevent spread to others and complications to themselves.

Herpes zoster patients, on coming in contact with other people, can transmit the virus and cause them to develop chickenpox. The virus is basically present in the blister fluids and so herpes patients should avoid staying in close physical contact with others for around 7-9 days until the blisters dry up. Avoiding contact with people is a major don’t for herpes zoster, only to ensure safety and prevention.

Outlook

The unsightly herpes zoster eruptions can be extremely painful and embarrassing. The acute nerve pain can be chronic and even last for years. Although not a life-threatening condition, herpes zoster can be a very debilitating. Vaccines can aid in reducing the risk of herpes zoster while early treatment and necessary preventive measures can help in shortening the infection and decreasing the risk of complications. This condition can be managed even more effectively by practicing the above mentioned dos and don’ts for herpes zoster.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 27, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest