What is Herpes Zoster and What Does it Do?

Herpes Zoster, otherwise known as Zoster or Shingles, is a reaction to the varicella-zoster virus reactivating from its inactive state. Accompanied by pain and dermatitis, Herpes Zoster can be not only extremely uncomfortable, it can be downright dangerous. Diagnosis is usually through the painful rash and treatments are generally available for symptomatic relief along with general anti-viral medication to slow and weaken the underlying cause.

Shingles Treatment

How it’s treated

Treatment via oral antiviral medication generally has positive effects on both the severity and duration of the rash and may offer other benefits to the underlying cause. Treatment via oral antiviral medication should begin as soon as possible and will be most effective if given within seventy-two hours of the initial appearance of any skin lesions or rashes. Corticosteroids do not appear to be effective in the treatment of Herpes Zoster related dermatitis. More effective than treatment for the underlying virus is the administration of the recombinant Herpes Zoster vaccine for adults who have immune systems capable of supporting the vaccine and antibody process.

Vaccination

The vaccine involves two doses given two to six months apart for the older form of the vaccine. The newer recombinant vaccine is given in a higher dose at a similar frequency which may be of an issue with immune-compromised patients. For these patients, data is not yet conclusive and there are currently no recommendations regarding the administration of the vaccine to individuals with compromised immune systems. Of particular interest is the fact the fewer than four percent of infected individuals develop another outbreak of Herpes Zoster, but a great deal of those who do experience an outbreak will have pain that continues for months or years. Antivirals are especially beneficial to these patients are most likely beneficial for immune-compromised individuals as well.

Analgesics

Treatment with analgesics can help to mitigate the pain of Herpes Zoster related outbreaks and while topical creams do not appear to aid in the healing of acute dermatitis, these treatments may offer palliative relief especially among chronic sufferers and those of advanced age. It should be noted that the Herpes Zoster vaccine is recommended for all individuals, the recombinant version of the vaccine should be given to individuals who display no sign of compromised immune function. Drugs that are implicated in the treatment of Herpes Zoster, including interactions, include but are not limited to:

  • Medrol
  • Valtrex
  • Famvir
  • Lyrica
  • Kamagra
  • Neurontin
  • Qutenza
  • Xylocaine
  • Zovirax

Symptoms

The painful rash of Herpes Zoster is caused by a viral infection. Although the rash can appear anywhere on the body, it most often appears as one stripe of blisters, wrapping around either the left or the right side of the middle of the body. The underlying cause, the varicella-zoster virus is the same virus that causes the chickenpox. When an individual has had the chickenpox, the virus will lie inactive in the nerve tissue that is near the spinal cord and brain. Many later the virus can activate again and cause the rash associated with Herpes Zoster. While Herpes Zoster isn’t a life-threatening condition, the rash can be extremely painful and nearly all affected individuals will need some type of palliative care along with oral antiviral medications to manage the active flare-up of the virus. Vaccines can be extremely useful in reducing the risk of Herpes Zoster.

Pharmaceutical treatment

Early treatment for Herpes Zoster by oral antiviral medication and topical treatment can help to both shorten the duration of a Herpes Zoster outbreak and also help to lessen the chance of further complications from the Herpes Zoster infection. If you think that you have a Herpes Zoster infection you should visit your primary care physician as soon as possible. Your primary care physician may prescribe Viagra en Suisse medication and topical relief creams as well as order additional tests to determine the activity level of the virus.

Seek a physician

Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist for further treatment and to rule out the possibility of further complications related to a Herpes Zoster outbreak. If your primary care physician refers you to a dermatologist for treatment related to your Herpes Zoster infection, you should make the appointment as soon as possible after you have seen your primary care physician. Your primary care physician should also be informed of any additional test results or treatments.

Published by Peter Williams

I am a medical practitioner from Australia. I am working in St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney now.

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