Shingles is an uncomfortable skin rash which is caused by the herpes zoster virus; the same virus which causes chickenpox. The majority of people who contract chickenpox make a full recovery, but the virus responsible will never completely leave your body. It can remain hidden within your nerve cells for years and manifest itself much later in the form of shingles. This painful rash tends to be more prevalent in people over 50, but it is not uncommon for younger people to experience an outbreak.
Although Shingles cannot be completely cured, it can be successfully treated with medications such as Valtrex and Famvir. These treatments can significantly reduce the severity of an infection, speed up recovery time and reduce discomfort.
Shingles is an offshoot of chickenpox. Most of us contract chickenpox when we are very young and will recover without complications, but the herpes zoster virus never completely leaves the system. It can lie dormant, hidden in the nerve cells for many years. For reasons still not understood, the virus can be reactivated in later life in the form of shingles. One of the most likely reasons for this could be a weakened immune system, as it is more commonly seen in people over 50 years of age.
Unlike most other infections caused by the herpes virus, shingles is not contagious. It is not possible for you catch it if you touch an infected area of skin. But if you have never had chickenpox, there is a risk of you catching it from someone with visible shingles symptoms. Contracting chickenpox as an adult is not as dangerous as contracting mumps, but you are still at a higher risk of suffering complications.
The early signs of an outbreak usually include a burning sensation in the area where the affected nerves are, followed by a fever. Two to three days after the initial symptoms appear, a rash will form, showing tiny blisters on red or swollen skin. These blisters burst and turn into sores after three to five days and then scab over, finally healing in full in two to three weeks.
In some cases people will continue to feel pain in the affected area, even after the rash has disappeared. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia and is often difficult to treat. In these cases it is best to speak to your doctor about treatment.
It is not yet known what activates the herpes virus and why shingles appear in some people and not in others. However, there have been some connections made between shingles and a weakend immune system. This is why older people, and individuals who suffer from HIV and other immune deficiency diseases, can be more susceptible to an outbreak. Fortunately, most people only experience two or three outbreaks of shingles in their lifetime.
Shingles isn't a curable condition, but there are a number of ways to suppress the virus and shorten the length of time you're ill when an outbreak does occur.
Zostavax is a vaccine available to patients over 50 without an immune deficiency. This vaccine can reduce your chances of developing an outbreak by 50% over a four year period.
Most people will be prescribed anti-viral medication to help treat the immediate symptoms. The most commonly used treatments available are Valtrex and Famvir:
Valtrex - This anti-viral treatment can alleviate symptoms and speed up your recovery time. If taken in time it can cut down the spread of the rash by more than a third.
Famvir - This can cut down recovery time by more than two to three days and calm the symptoms of the shingles rash. Famvir can also reduce the nerve pain associated with a shingles outbreak.
Both Famvir and Valtrex are available to buy from Onlineclinic, with free overnight delivery included in all orders so you can begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear. When you place your order, you will be asked to complete a free online consultation. This consultation form will include various medical questions that will be used to help our doctors form a diagnosis. If our doctors believe the treatment you have chosen is right for you, a prescription will be issued and passed on to our pharmacy. If the medication is not right for you, we may be able to make a recommendation for an alternative treatment.