Herpes zoster is a disease that occurs when the chickenpox virus, which was dormant in the ganglion inside the body, is reactivated. Pain or paresthesia lasts for several days, followed by band-shaped blisters and rashes. Herpes zoster occurs more often in adults over the age of 60 with weakened immune systems than in younger people and in those who are being treated for various diseases. However, it is said that even at a young age, the disease can be caused by excessive overwork and stress. In addition, it is reported that the incidence of shingles increases significantly during the changing seasons, when the daily temperature difference is very large, as it is greatly affected by the body’s adaptability and immunity. The main symptoms of herpes zoster are skin rash and pain in the affected area, but when the symptoms get worse, the pain becomes more severe, and there are various symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, muscle pain, numbness in the limbs, and complications depending on the site. may appear. When shingles occurs around the eyes, it can cause keratitis and iritis, and when the virus penetrates into the meninges, it can progress to meningitis. In particular, in patients with weakened immunity, it can spread throughout the body and lead to death. Therefore, it is important to recognize the various factors that affect the occurrence of herpes zoster and prevent them in advance, and at the same time, prompt treatment when symptoms appear. Now, let’s learn about the various causes that affect the occurrence of herpes zoster, as well as various information on treatment and prevention.
Causes of herpes zoster
Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus, the cause of chickenpox. When you are infected by the chickenpox virus in childhood, the virus does not completely disappear and remains dormant in the ganglion even after you have chickenpox. In this case, even if the body virus is in the body, it is not felt, and there are no outwardly pathological symptoms. Then, when the body’s immune system is weakened, the dormant chickenpox virus is activated and travels down the nerves to the skin, causing various symptoms. The incidence of herpes zoster increases as the body’s immune system is greatly affected when undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and AIDS. In particular, if you are taking immunosuppressants for the treatment of various diseases or taking steroids for a long time, your immunity will decrease and the risk of occurrence increases. And when irregular life and sleeping habits that lower the immune function are prolonged, or when they are frequently exposed to extreme psychological stress, it is said to have a significant effect on the occurrence.
Herpes Zoster Treatment and Prevention
1. Diagnosis and examination
It is important to start treatment within 72 hours after the onset of symptoms because the treatment of shingles is more effective the sooner it is started. First, the shape of the skin lesion is checked, and the symptoms are observed to make a clinical diagnosis. Because herpes zoster does not show any skin changes in a typical form, an accurate diagnosis is made by conducting a microscopic examination, molecular genetic test, and virus culture test. And, according to the diagnosis result, antiviral drugs are administered and treated, and analgesics are taken to relieve the pain caused by herpes zoster. Pain relievers are selected based on the severity of the symptoms. If the pain continues despite these treatments or there is a risk of complications, hospitalization may be performed.
2, Habits for immune management
As herpes zoster is a disease in which the virus is activated due to a decrease in immune function, regular exercise and sufficient sleep habits to manage immune function must be taken. It is also recommended to pay close attention to personal hygiene to prevent viral and bacterial infections that cause weakening of the immune system, and to reduce excessive stressors that disrupt normal metabolism. And as our body is most affected by the food we eat, it is recommended to eat a balanced diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and blue-green fish, which are excellent in helping to boost immunity.
3. Vaccination against herpes zoster
In order to prevent shingles, it is also important to vaccinate after getting chickenpox to prevent the virus that has been dormant in the body from being reactivated. Even if vaccinated, it is not 100% preventable, but it is reported that it is 50% preventable. It is also known to reduce neuralgia symptoms caused by herpes zoster by up to 60%. It is known that the effectiveness of the vaccine for herpes zoster is about 70% in their 50s, 64% in their 60s, and 38% in their 70s and older, depending on age.