Shingles is a disease caused by herpes varicella zoster virus. This virus is also called as zoster virus in common language. Chickenpox is also caused by this virus. It is to be understood that when a person suffers from chickenpox in childhood and recovers from same, above named virus remains in a dormant stage in the body.
Immune system of the body prevents this virus from becoming active in the immune system. Later on, in some cases, this virus may become active again and thus, causes shingles. In this disease, infection of nerve and the surrounding skin occurs.
This disease is characterized by eruption of vesicles. This occurs in group and mostly, one side of body is affected. Due to the infection, inflammation of ganglia occurs. This may or may not be accompanied with post-therapeutic pain.
There are some complications attached to shingles, which occur due to the weakened immune system. Commonest complication is loss of pigmentation. Patient develops white patches in the skin after the rashes are over.
Scarring of skin is other complication which happens due to blister eruption. Another complication attached with shingles is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. In this disorder, the facial nerves are infected. In worse cases, permanent weakness in muscles occurs.
Even there can be loss of hearing. Other symptoms of the disorder are earache, dizziness, face paralysis etc. Eye ulceration can also be caused due to shingles. The cornea in the eye becomes scarred, which may or may not be accompanied with inflammation of the iris and ciliary bodies.
In worst cases of shingles, brain inflammation occurs. Patient suffers from very high fever, headache and weakness in limbs. As nerves get damaged due to infection, postherpetic neuralgia can occur. As a result, messages sent from the brain become confused.
Shingles can be prevented in adults over 60 years of age through vaccine. Though 100% immunity against the disease is not provided, risk of complications and severity of disease are reduced considerably.
This vaccine is preventative in nature and thus, cannot be given for treatment of disease. Chickenpox vaccine can be given to children falling in age group of 12-18 years, older children and adults for preventing disease.