Shingles, also called herpes zoster, zoster, or zona is a viral disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the human body, typically your face or torso. It is caused by the reactivation of this varicella-zoster virus (VZV), that’s the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can occur on any part of your system, but it frequently seems like a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the left or right side of your torso. Shingles may also erupt in your eye, mouth, ear, head, arm, or thigh.

Every year, there are approximately one million new cases of shingles in the United States alone. Almost one out of every 3 individuals develop shingles at some time in their lifetime, and while many individuals who get shingles only have a single episode, some have recurrent cases of shingles.

Shingles is more common in older adults and in people with compromised immune systems. It’s not a life-threatening condition, but it can be extremely debilitating, and rarely, may lead to more significant complications. Vaccines can help decrease your risk of developing shingles, and early treatment can help shorten the length of the virus, decrease symptoms, and lessen the probability of complications.

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Continue reading to find out all you need to know about shingles, from frequent ailments to causes and prevention.

Frequent Symptoms Of Shingles

Shingles usually affect a tiny section of one side of your body, frequently appearing in your stomach, torso, rib cage, waist, or back. Symptoms can also appear in your face, generally on your head, ear, or mouth. Sometimes, the virus can change your internal organs.

Signs and symptoms may include a tingling, itching, or stinging sensation that impacts the appearance of a rash, and a deep, burning, and stabbing pain on one side of your body, a red rash that erupts a few days after the pain, itching and skin sensitivity in the outbreak area, and fluid-filled blisters that break open, ooze, and form a crust.

Shingles affect a dorsal root ganglion, also referred to as a posterior root ganglion or spinal ganglion, which can be a cluster of sensory nerves at a spinal nerve. The pain you experience results from nerve participation and not the rash itself. In fact, some people experience pain with no rash.

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Other individuals may suffer from pain and a rash accompanied by other symptoms, like headaches, body aches, fever and chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, a general feeling of discomfort or restlessness, an upset stomach, swollen lymph glands, and photophobia or sensitivity to bright light.