Why You Need to Take Shingles Seriously

Brought on by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles causes a painful rash on the skin. Although it is more common in people over 50 and those with a weakened immune system, anyone can get shingles. While it is often not life-threatening, it is still important to understand the risks and complications associated with the viral infection.

Shingles Scars

In most cases, with proper care and treatment, rashes clear up within 3-4 weeks. However, in some cases, the rashes may get infected and result in permanent scarring or discoloration.

Eye Problems

In cases where it affects the face, it may result in ophthalmic herpes zoster, which is a type of eye infection. An outbreak in the eye can cause vision loss, pain, and scarring and requires immediate treatment.

Postherpetic Neuralgia

In most cases, symptoms improve within 3-4 weeks. However, some people’s nerves incur so much damage that the pain associated with the viral infection may become chronic. Postherpetic neuralgia is one of the most common complications related to shingles.

Encephalitis

Though it is relatively rare, it can also result in swelling of a part of the brain, which is known as encephalitis. Encephalitis can cause headaches, fatigue, fever, seizures, light sensitivity, confusion, and even hallucinations.

Pneumonia

Even though it typically affects the skin, the virus can travel to other organs, like the lungs, which then can lead to pneumonia. However, pneumonia usually improves when it is treated.

Disseminated Rashes

Shingles usually affect a small part of the body, but since the virus is able to travel through the body easily, shingles rashes can also potentially form on larger areas on the skin, which is referred to as disseminated herpes zoster.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

When shingles affect the face, it can potentially harm the nerves in and around the ears, which results in a syndrome known as Ramsay Hunt. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome can cause permanent facial paralysis and hearing loss.

Transverse Myelitis

The disease is also known to target the spinal cord by causing inflammation, which is identified as transverse myelitis. This complication can cause pain, incontinence, and in severe cases, paralysis.

Meningitis

Meningitis is another concern associated with the disease that primarily leads to swelling in the brain and spinal cord, which can cause fever, muscle pain, nausea, and stiffness.  

Secondary Infections

The disease also thrives in a body with a weak immune system, and so someone who has the shingles virus is also at risk of other infections due to how compromised their immune system is. A secondary infection can be quite precarious in people who have shingles.  

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