Persons who suffer from skin rashes and bands of sores may ask the question, “What is shingles”. This is a disease or illness that affects many persons, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. There is no short answer to the question what is shingles, however medical professionals do know the root of the disease and some possible causes.
Shingles is Related to Chicken Pox.
The reply to a person who asks what is shingles usually begins with the doctor asking if the sufferer has ever had chicken pox. Shingles is a variation of the chicken pox virus and can affect a person years after the original chicken pox virus. The virus that causes chicken pox will lie dormant in the roots of nerves forever. This virus can become active again and this will cause an outbreak of shingles. Although persons normally do not get chicken pox a second time the shingles virus, or herpes zoster, can cause rashes and illness that equal the original chicken pox. So one answer to the question; “what is shingles” is that it is a skin rash or condition caused by the chicken pox virus that lies dormant in a person’s nerves. This is the starting point of the discussion, the symptoms and the causes also have to be examined.
In describing the disease to a person who asks what is shingles, the symptoms must be described. Shingles can affect a person in many ways. Usually the symptoms are evident as a skin rash and blisters on the body. These blisters will usually appear in a band around the torso. However many persons who suffer from shingles get them on the face or entire body. Others who are diagnosed with shingles may never get the rash at all, when they ask “what is shingles” the medical professional has to explain that the illness can take different forms in different persons.
Shingles normally begin with a person having a headache or having flu like symptoms. So when someone asks “what is shingles” the first stage is flu like symptoms with no fever. In the following days the person will notice an itching on parts of his or her body. This itching is in the area where a rash will normally appear later. Another response to the question, “what is shingles” is that it starts with an itching along bands of the body. The affected areas normally are in a continuous band or portion of the torso. This area may be where chicken pox was present when the disease affected the sufferer. This is not always the case though s the virus can lay dormant in the nerve roots anywhere in the body.
After the itching stage the body will normally break out in a rash. This rash is the final stage of singles and is what most people know as the answer to the question “what is shingles”. The rash may eventually turn into blisters and crust over into a scabby region on the body. It is important not to scratch these areas as breaking the blisters and crating open wounds can easily cause scarring when the shingles have ended. Anyone asking “what is shingles” should know that the illness is serious and painful but will normally end in two to four weeks.
When a person asks “what is shingles” they also want to know the cause of the disease. Many persons who suffer from chicken pox never get a later outbreak of shingles. Those persons who do suffer from shingles later in life may ask “why me as well as “what is singles”. The causes of shingles can be varied. Sometimes shingles are caused by stress and other times by some other disease. The main cause is a weakening of the immune system that allows the dormant virus to become active.
Shingles can be Contagious
A person affected by shingles should know that the disease can be contagious. Anyone asking “what is shingles” should be made aware that the disease can be passed on to other persons. It is the chicken pox virus that is actually passed along and not shingles. Therefore when a person ask what is shingles and is it contagious they should be told that the actual virus that causes it is contagious and can be transmitted to anyone who has not had chicken pox and has not received the chicken pox vaccine. When the virus is transmitted it can cause chicken pox in another and begin the cycle.
Persons asking, what is shingles, should also know that there is no true cure for the disease. The treatment for shingles is anti-viral medications and pain killers. Shingles is a painful condition with itching and pain in the affected areas. When a person wants to know “what is shingles” they need to be told it is a painful viral infection that can be treated but which also must run its course once it has taken hold. Persons asking “what is shingles” who show the symptoms will want to begin a regimen of anti-viral drugs right away. This can alleviate the symptoms and shorten the time a person is affected with the virus. Anyone who believes they have shingles should seek medical attention right away.
A doctor’s reply to the question “what is shingles” will include many medical terms and discussion of causes. Doctors will also recommend home rest and treatment of the sores and rashes. Rest and treatment of the sores will help eliminate the pain and speed the recovery.
The response given to the question” what is shingles” is not simple or the same for each person. The causes and treatments will vary from one person to another. The facts are that anyone who thinks they have shingles will need to ask their doctor the question:” what is shingles” and then have the disease and its causes explained to them. Once the diagnosis is made there will be options for treatment and cautionary steps to take so that others are not affected by the virus. There is really no single or simple answer to the question “what is shingles”.