| Pain in the
Did you ever get
chicken pox as a kid?
Shingles, or herpes zoster,
is caused by the varicella or the zoster virus
which has been lying dormant following chicken
pox earlier in life. The re-activation may be
spontaneous, especially in the elderly, or could
be due to immunosuppression as in patients of
AIDS. Chicken pox may be contracted from a patient
with shingles but the opposite never occurs.
Severe continuous pain in an around the affected
nerve root. Later, the skin reddens and vesicles
appear which eventually dry up but leave scars.
The pain subsides as the eruption fades, though
in older people neuralgia may follow. Sometimes,
the infection moves to the eyes, leading to vision
impairment. Occasionally, it invades the spinal
cord or brain, causing myelitis or encephalitis.
In the early stages of the rash, idoxuridine in
a 5% solution may be applied to the skin. 0.1%
drops are used for eye infections. In severe cases,
anti-viral drugs like acyclovir are used as local
cream, tablets or injection. Analgesics are not
of much help, but drugs meant for the treatment
of epilepsy are found useful. Transcutaneous nerve
stimulation is sometimes effective. For more details,
please consult your doctor.