As children, we had to succumb to various vaccinations as our parents and pediatricians require it. Vaccines are needed to prevent chronic diseases caused by certain viruses and bacteria that are attacking the body especially the immune system.
Getting vaccines is just as vital as it is to have a balanced diet, regular exercise, and physical check-ups. It is one of the easiest means of protecting yourself and maintaining good health. We are more vulnerable to severe diseases like rubella, measles, hepatitis and even cancer when we skip vaccines.
Shingles is also another disease that can be preventable through vaccinations. It is characterized by a kind of infection causing a painful rash on the body.
Shingles – An Overview
The virus that occurs in chickenpox called varicella-zoster virus is the same virus that causes shingles. The virus is known to come from a group of viruses known as herpes viruses. That is why shingles are also referred to as herpes zoster.
Shingles is usually noted as a single blistered stripe that covers on either side of your torso, even though it can appear anywhere on the body.
After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant in the central nervous system situated near the brain and spinal cord. Once it has been triggered again, it will revive in the form of shingles. That said, it is possible for anyone who already experienced chickenpox to develop shingles years later. In America, an estimate of one million cases of shingles has been reported. Roughly 1 in 3 people will contract shingles anytime.
Shingles is commonly seen in individuals who are 50 years and above.
Shingles and the possible causes
When the dormant herpes virus in the nervous system gets reactivated, it will pass through the nerve fibers creating an active but new infection. It is not clear how the virus is reactivated to begin reproducing. However, studies suggest that a weakened immune system triggers the virus.
Some of these triggers include:
– Certain diseases like cancer, AIDS or HIV
– Treatments for cancer like chemotherapy where the radiation decreases a person’s resistance to illnesses
– Certain medications used after organ transplants
– Old age
– Children who had chickenpox at an earlier age
– Children whose mothers who had chicken pox at the later stage of pregnancy
Shingles and the symptoms
When shingles occur, the most common sign felt is pain. The kind of pain experienced is usually a constant burning, gnawing, or sharp and stabbing pain that happens frequently. Along with the pain, a raw and blistered rash will also appear across the body.
For some people, shingles would usually begin with a tingly, itchy and numbing pain in certain parts of the body. A rash would then appear later which will then develop into itchy blisters filled with fluid. These blisters would look like chickenpox and then would later appear like a severe and glaring burn. Often, the blisters would also affect the eye causing temporary loss of vision.
Other people with shingles will also develop painful lesions on the torso which is extremely sensitive to touch. These episodes would normally last for about two to four weeks. By the 7th or 10th, the blisters would dry up, and scabs would develop. This is the time when the rash is not considered contagious anymore.
There are also cases where people would experience rashes with the absence of pain, or pain without the presence of rashes.
Shingles and contagiousness
Shingles is not considered a life-threatening disease. It would occur for some people days at a time or even disappear entirely. Rare cases like pneumonia, encephalitis or even death have occurred because of shingles. However, it is important to have still it treated once the symptoms are felt. Not only is this infection painful when it happens, but it is also embarrassing.
Shingles and home treatments
For some people, getting a doctor’s diagnosis of shingles is necessary. Although there are medications prescribed for it, shingles are less likely to cause health complications. In fact, shingles can be treated just by using home remedies. Below are five suggestions:
- Apple Cider Vinegar compress
This age-old liquid has been used for centuries for treating inflammations and infections. With apple cider vinegar, the itchiness and blisters would be relieved due to its acidity. You can do this by applying a compress using a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar. Another option is to fill your bath with around 2 to 4 cups of apple cider vinegar and have a long, relaxing soak.
- Organic Honey
Another natural remedy that helps manage inflammations and infections is honey. The antibacterial properties in honey help fight against the viruses causing shingles. Moreover, applying it on the affected area is also soothing. Simply dab ample amount of honey on the blistered areas to speed up healing and relief.
- Paste using baking soda and cornstarch
A simple remedy to help manage itching and induce relief is baking soda and cornstarch. Using a tablespoon of cornstarch and baking soda, create a paste by mixing water. Just apply the mixture on the affected skin for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off. For better results, you can repeat the method as needed.
- A change in diet
To counter against viruses, we need to achieve a stronger immune system. What better way to do it than to consume foods rich in essentials vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin A, C, E and B-6, folate, zinc, and iron. These are found in lean meats, green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and nuts.
- Applying Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is also another effective natural treatment for shingles. If you have planted aloe vera at home, cut a leaf and squeeze out the juice from it onto the affected area on the skin.
It is important to note that home remedies may not work for everyone. A cure has not been known yet for shingles, so these are just suggestions to help relief and manage the discomfort from the rashes.
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