7 Facts about Shingles

1. Can I get shingles if I’m under a lot of stress?

Stress itself does not cause shingles. However, many patients with shingles are said to have recently experienced severe mental or physical stress. It is presumed that stress can weaken the immune system, making a person more vulnerable to shingles.

2. Is shingles contagious?

People who have already had chickenpox will have the symptoms of shingles by reactivating the chickenpox virus lurking in the ganglion after the first infection with the chickenpox virus.

People who have never had chickenpox can be infected with shingles. This is mostly due to contact with blisters in patients with shingles, and in rare cases it can also be transmitted by airborne infections. Therefore, if a person who has never had chickenpox comes into contact with someone who has shingles, vaccination should be considered to prevent the onset.

3. Can rashes of shingles occur all over the body?

Shingles rashes and blisters most often occur in limited areas of the body. However, in patients with reduced immunity, the herpes zoster virus, the cause of shingles, travels through the bloodstream, causing the rash to break out of the skin segment and appear throughout the body.

4. How long does the shingles symptoms last?

After 1-2 weeks after the rash and blisters have emerged, the scab begins to form. Over the course of two weeks, the skin on which the scab has formed also improves. The pain at the site of the rash usually goes away within a few weeks, but the sensory abnormalities can last for months before the nerves recover. Some patients suffer from severe pain even months or years after the blister is gone.

5. Can shingles recur?

Relapses are very rare in healthy people, but occasionally in people with reduced immunity.

6. What are the complications of shingles?

The most common complication is a severe pain that persists after weeks or months, which is called postzoster neuralgia. In addition, complications may occur in the eyes, ears, face, and urinary system depending on the skin segment invading. Shingles that originates from the face or eyes can be dangerous to the patient’s vision or hearing. In particular, if the iris of the eye is damaged, the patient may be blinded permanently. Blisters around the anus may cause problems for the patient to urinate or stool.

7. Why do some people get and others do not, even if they have the same risk factors?

It is not yet clear why some of the people get it and the others don’t. Unlike the flu virus, the human body’s response to the chickenpox virus is not a complete removal from the body. The body’s immune system does not completely eliminate the varicella zoster virus, it only suppresses its activity. However, the state of the immune system is different for each individual. This is why people with similar risk factors are divided into those who develop illness and those who do not.

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