There are 5 things you should know about zoster. Also known as shingles, zoster occurs in about 20 percent of those who have chicken pox. Once the sores from chicken pox have healed the virus remains dormant in the body. If the virus comes back it causes a painful condition called zoster.
- The causes of zoster are unclear. But certain factors, such as stress or lowered immunity from another illness may trigger the re-emergence of the virus. So those who are being treated for cancer or AIDS should know about zoster since they are more at risk for developing it.
- One thing you should know about zoster is that it can be contagious. If the virus is transmitted then the target will not get zoster they will develop chicken pox. This normally happens only if the blisters break open and they come in contact with a very young child or someone with a compromised immune system.
- Symptoms of zoster usually begin with a red rash only on one side of the body. It may be accompanied by a fever. Painful blister develop out of the rash and take a few weeks. As they progress they turn from red to yellow, scab over and then go away. Residual pain, itching or numbness can occur even after the blisters have disappeared.
- If zoster is diagnosed within three days of the appearance of the rash an anti-viral medication can be prescribed. Shingles can be extremely painful and require a prescription painkiller to make the patient comfortable. Cold compresses placed over the blistered area can provide some relief.
- Another thing you should know about zoster is that there is a vaccination available. It is approved for those over 60 years old, if they have never had shingles. It is not recommended for those with compromised immunity. The immunization for children is for the chicken pox, although adults can receive the vaccine as well. If a person does not contract chicken pox then they will not get zoster.