Herpes Zoster

What are the symptoms of herpes zoster?

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, begins with pain, tingling or extreme sensitivity in one area of the skin, usually on one side of the body. The most common location for zoster to appear is on the trunk or buttocks although it can also be found on legs, face or arms. After a few days, a rash will appear and will turn into blisters which resemble chicken pox. You may also experience headache, fever and neuralgia. Even after the blisters crust and disappear, pain, sometimes severe, may continue for several weeks or even months.

What causes herpes zoster?

Herpes zoster is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. About 20% of people who have had chicken pox may develop herpes zoster. The condition is normally found in people over 50 and can be the result of stress or trauma. This disease occurs often in individuals who are otherwise healthy. Zoster is not highly contagious and can only be transmitted if blisters are broken.

How is herpes zoster treated?

The condition usually resolves on its own within a few weeks. However, the following treatments can be used:

  • Cold compresses for drying blisters
  • Pain relievers
  • Anti viral drugs
  • Steroids
  • Nerve blocks in the case of severe pain