In recent times, there has been a discernible upsurge in the level of public interest and consciousness regarding Shingles and its associated difficulties, notwithstanding the fact that this ailment has been acknowledged for numerous generations. Internet users have enthusiastically engaged in extensive and thorough online research into shingles.

However, It inadvertently strikes our mind why the apparent surge in curiosity surrounding shingles. In this blog, we will explore several aspects of a highly alarming illness that may not be widely known or understood by the general population. We will also debunk some of the myths, and some commonly associated links with Chickenpox in order to dispel any misconceptions and alleviate uncertainty. Let us now proceed to thoroughly examine the subject matter.

Shingles and its severity

Why so much of Noise

This newfound curiosity can be attributed to several key factors, each contributing to the heightened attention Shingles is receiving. Firstly, advancements in medical research and communication have made it easier than ever for individuals to access information about various health conditions, including Shingles. With the internet serving as a vast repository of medical knowledge, people are now more capable and inclined to educate themselves about diseases and their potential consequences.

The increasing emphasis on preventive healthcare has spurred interest in Shingles, which can be prevented through vaccination. The introduction and promotion of vaccines like the shingles vaccine, Zostavax, and its successor, Shingrix, have raised awareness about shingles as individuals seek to understand the importance of immunization in reducing their risk of developing the disease. As more people engage with healthcare professionals and seek preventative measures, discussions surrounding Shingles and its complications have become more common.

The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the renewed interest in Shingles. The pandemic has heightened public awareness of health-related issues and underscored the importance of maintaining a strong immune system. Since Shingles is linked to a weakened immune system, the pandemic has prompted individuals to investigate this disease, particularly as they look for ways to bolster their immunity and reduce their susceptibility to various infections. Additionally, pandemic-related disruptions in healthcare services and vaccination programs have made people more vigilant about their overall health and the importance of staying up-to-date with vaccines, including those for Shingles.

 a comprehensive overview 

Shingles is a pathogenic viral infection characterized by the development of a distressing cutaneous eruption. Shingles have the potential to manifest in any region of the human body. The characteristic presentation of this condition is often observed as a unilateral band of vesicles encircling either the left or right lateral aspect of the torso.

General Overview Regarding Shingles

Shingles are attributed to the varicella-zoster virus, which is identical to the virus responsible for the onset of chickenpox. Once someone has contracted chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains present in their body indefinitely. In subsequent years, it is possible for the virus to undergo reactivation, manifesting as the medical condition known as shingles.

Shingles do not pose a significant risk to one’s life. However, the experience can be characterized by significant discomfort. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing shingles. Prompt initiation of treatment has the potential to reduce the duration of a shingles infection and mitigate the likelihood of complications. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most commonly encountered complication. This is a chronic illness characterized by persistent postherpetic neuralgia, resulting in prolonged pain following the resolution of shingles-associated blisters.

Understanding Shingles and its consequences

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus responsible for chickenpox, which many people contract during childhood. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in their nerve cells for years, even decades. Shingles occur when the virus reactivates, leading to a painful and often debilitating rash. In this comprehensive overview, we will explore various aspects of shingles, including its causes, symptoms, complications, treatment, and prevention.

Causes and Risk Factors

The primary cause of shingles is the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which can lay dormant in the body’s nerve cells after an initial chickenpox infection. While the exact trigger for reactivation remains unclear, certain factors can increase the risk of developing shingles:

  • Age: Shingles is most common in individuals over the age of 50, as the immune system weakens with age, making it less effective at keeping the virus in check.
  • Weakened Immune System: Conditions or treatments that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer treatments, or long-term steroid use, can make reactivation of the virus more likely.
  • Gender: Women and men are equally susceptible to shingles, but some studies suggest that women may be at a slightly higher risk.


The hallmark symptom of shingles is a painful rash that typically appears on one side of the body. Other symptoms of this rash, which frequently takes the form of a band or strip, include:

Pain: The pain associated with shingles can range from mild to severe and is often described as burning, shooting, or throbbing. It usually precedes the appearance of the rash.

Rash: The rash consists of clusters of red, fluid-filled blisters that can break open, crust over, and eventually heal. It follows a dermatome pattern, which means it appears along a specific nerve pathway.

Itching: People with shingles may experience a severe itchy rash, which makes their discomfort worse.

Fever and Chills: Some people may develop a fever and experience flu-like symptoms.

Sensitivity to Touch: The affected area can be extremely sensitive to touch, making everyday activities, such as wearing clothing, painful.

Shingles infection in back neck


Shingles can lead to several complications, including:

Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN):

PHN is the most common complication of shingles and is, characterized by persistent and severe pain in the area where the rash occurred. It can last for months or even years after the rash has healed.

Vision Problems:

When shingles affect the eye (ophthalmic shingles), it can lead to vision problems or even blindness if left untreated.

Neurological Complications:

In rare cases, shingles can affect the brain (encephalitis) or the spinal cord (myelitis), resulting in serious neurological complications.

Skin Infections:

Scratching the shingles rash can lead to bacterial skin infections.

Shingles treatment protocol

Early treatment of shingles is crucial to reducing the severity of symptoms and the risk of complications. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir, are often prescribed to help shorten the duration of the infection and alleviate pain. Pain management strategies may include over-the-counter pain relievers, topical creams, and sometimes prescription medications for severe pain.

To manage itching and discomfort, keeping the affected area clean and applying cool, wet compresses can be helpful. Rest and stress reduction are also important during recovery.

Prevention of Shingles

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent shingles and its complications. Two vaccines are available:

  • Zostavax: This vaccine was the first shingles vaccine, and it was effective in reducing the risk of shingles. However, its successor, Shingrix, is now recommended due to its higher effectiveness.
  • Shingrix: Shingrix is a newer and highly effective shingles vaccine. It is recommended for individuals aged 50 and older, even if they previously received Zostavax.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and practicing good hygiene can also help reduce the risk of shingles.

Some myths and facts related to shingles

Misconception: Shingles is Non-Transmissible

The presence of unhealed vesicles in shingles does not facilitate the transmission of the disease itself, but it can serve as a means of transmitting the varicella-zoster virus to individuals who have not previously been exposed to it, resulting in the development of chickenpox. This can potentially result in a subsequent manifestation of shingles.

Misconception: Shingles Only Affects the Elderly Population

Although the prevalence of the virus is higher among individuals aged 50 and beyond, it is important to note that individuals of any age, including children, who have previously contracted chickenpox are susceptible to acquiring the infection. Individuals with compromised immune systems due to specific medications or medical conditions such as cancer or HIV are more prone to acquiring it, particularly among the younger demographic.

Misconception: Equating Chickenpox with a Similar Condition

Both shingles and chickenpox are attributed to the same viral agent; nonetheless, it is important to note that they are distinct illnesses. Chickenpox is characterized by the development of many pruritic vesicles, which typically resolve within a period of 5 to 7 days, primarily affecting the pediatric population. The duration of a shingles rash typically spans approximately one month.

Misconception: Shingles are an infrequent occurrence.

Approximately one-third of the American population is projected to have this condition during their lifespans. The annual amount is one million. Approximately 50% of individuals who attain the age of 85 will have experienced an episode of shingles at some juncture.

Misconception: The Inability to Treat It

The administration of antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir within the initial three days following the onset of a rash has the potential to alleviate discomfort and expedite the resolution of the condition. Commencing a task at an early stage yields more favorable outcomes. Prescription and non-prescription analgesics, corticosteroids, and nerve block therapies may also provide relief.

Misconception: The Myth of Transient Disappearance

Approximately 40% of individuals who experience an episode of shingles report the persistence of a prolonged sensation of burning and shooting pain, which can endure for several months or even years following the resolution of the characteristic rash. The medical condition referred to as postherpetic neuralgia is sometimes abbreviated as PHN. Medical professionals possess the expertise to assist individuals in effectively managing their condition through the utilization of medicines and several other therapeutic interventions.

Misconception:  The Prevalence of the Rash as the Primary Concern

In addition to neuropathic pain resulting from postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), individuals may experience secondary complications such as cutaneous infections, scarring, cephalalgia, pyrexia, abdominal discomfort, or myasthenia. It is advisable to promptly consult with a healthcare professional upon the onset of symptoms in order to receive appropriate medical intervention.

Shingles in the eye area

Misconception: The Incidence of Reinfection is Nonexistent

Infrequent occurrences Nonetheless, the eventuality remains plausible. Fresh outbreaks typically manifest in various regions of the body. The administration of a shingles vaccine has the potential to reduce the likelihood of a subsequent infection, even if the vaccination is administered subsequent to a prior occurrence of shingles.

Statement: The utilization of a vaccine has the potential to aid in the prevention of the aforementioned condition

While the administration of vaccination does not provide absolute assurance against the occurrence of shingles, it has been observed to significantly reduce the likelihood by over 90%. In the event that one acquires the aforementioned ailment, it is plausible that its impact may be comparatively minimal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is recommended that individuals who are in good health and aged 50 or older, as well as those who are immunocompromised and aged 19 or older, receive two doses of the Shingrix vaccine. 

The intervals between the shots range from 2 to 6 months. Exceptions to this rule include individuals who are actively afflicted with shingles, pregnant individuals, or those who have been determined to possess immunity by a diagnostic test. It is probable that individuals have been exposed to chickenpox, regardless of the absence of blister development, hence necessitating vaccination even in cases where the illness is not recalled.

Statement: One established fact is that the presence of stress has the potential to act as a trigger for the onset of shingles.

The presence of stress has the potential to compromise the functioning of the immune system, thereby increasing the susceptibility to experiencing an outbreak. Alternatively, it may gradually deplete your immune system until you succumb to a respiratory infection or another condition that serves as a catalyst. Furthermore, it is worth noting that those who have contracted shingles may experience exacerbated pain as a result of heightened stress levels.

Statement: It is generally believed that it has the potential to result in the loss of vision

Ocular shingles, characterized by symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pain in the eye or eyelid, can give rise to significant health concerns. It is imperative to seek immediate medical assistance because of the potential risks of developing glaucoma, scarring, or vision loss. The presence of blisters on the nasal tip may serve as an initial indicator.

Statement: It is possible for the rash to get infected

In the event that the pain and redness associated with a blister do not exhibit signs of improvement or exacerbate within a span of many weeks, it is plausible that a bacterial infection of the skin may be present. It is advisable to promptly schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Prolonged healing and skin scarring may be observed as potential consequences.

Statement: Shingles May Cause Neurological Complications

Instances of shingles affecting the periorbital region, auricular area, frontal region, or nasal region are infrequent; however, such occurrences may occasionally result in cerebral edema, facial paralysis, or impairments in auditory and vestibular function. In exceptional circumstances, an infection occurring in these anatomical regions has the potential to precipitate a cerebrovascular accident or meningitis, characterized by inflammation and infection of the meninges encompassing the brain and spinal cord.


The reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus results in shingles, a painful and potentially serious viral infection. The reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus results in shingles, a painful and potentially serious viral infection. While it primarily affects older individuals, it can occur at any age. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to minimize symptoms and prevent complications. Vaccination with Shingrix is a key preventive measure, especially for those at higher risk. Awareness of the causes, symptoms, complications, and treatment options for shingles is vital for both individuals and healthcare providers to effectively manage this condition and improve overall public health.


This information is for educational purposes only, and no medical advice should be inferred from it. Do not take self-medications or any drug without consulting your Doctor. Before adding supplements, please talk to your doctor.

The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does not take any responsibility or obligation for them.

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