Shingles is a viral disease that can occur anywhere on the body.
It is caused by infection with the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. If someone had chickenpox during childhood, the virus remains dormant in their body, and it can re-emerge later in life due to factors like stress or fatigue. Initial symptoms often include a tingling pain in the skin without necessarily showing visible skin changes.
Over time, it progresses to redness and blister formation. While shingles is most commonly found on the upper body, particularly the chest and back, it can appear anywhere on the body, including the face and lower back.
Shingles often leads to severe pain known as postherpetic neuralgia.
About a week after the onset of shingles, skin symptoms worsen, and the pain intensifies gradually. While the blisters typically disappear within 2-3 weeks, postherpetic neuralgia frequently persists for an extended period. Pain relief with conventional analgesics can be challenging, and improvement may not be observed even after 2-3 months.
Shingles predominantly affects individuals between their 50s and 70s but can occur in people of all age groups. When the symptoms persist, the intense pain can make sleeping difficult, leading to sleep deprivation. As the condition progresses, discomfort may increase, significantly impacting daily life. Prolonged shingles can even lead to conditions like Hunt syndrome, which includes symptoms such as facial nerve paralysis, hearing impairment, dizziness, and a decrease in taste sensation. Other complications like rectal and bladder issues can also arise.