Shingles: Symptoms, Contagiousness, and Treatment

Shingles: (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles is an acute viral inflammatory disease of the skin. It is characterized by small red vesicles (blister-like lesions) appearing on the skin in bands much resembling the shape and coloration of a snake. Herpes Zoster mainly occurs in the lumbar and costal regions and are most prevalent during spring and Fall and mainly affect older adults (although we have seen clients in their thirties in the clinic suffering from the condition).

What causes Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.  Once you had chickenpox , the virus hides in the nerve tissues around the spinal cord and brain and years later, the virus gets reactivated as shingles.

Some of the risk factors of shingles are stress, diseases that weaken your immune system such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, cancer treatments including radiation or chemotherapy, and certain medication including prolonged use of steroids, such as prednisone.

In Chinese medicine, Shingles are caused by Liver-fire, damp heat and/or invasion of external toxin.

What Are Some Symptoms of Shingles?

Shingles are characterized by stabbing pain of the affected skin at the onset of the condition. Soon after, skin turns red and patches of blisters in the size of soybeans start to evolve and form a band like patches. These blisters are filled with fluid. Some of the other symptoms at the site of the infections are burning pain, numbness, and/or itchiness of the affects skin.  At this stage, these viruses are contagious and the lesions should not be touched. The blisters dry after two weeks and form no scars. These blisters most often affect only one side of the body. Although the lumbar and costal areas are the most common sites of shingles. It can occur on the face, chest, abdomen or lower limbs. Some of the accompanied symptoms of shingles are fever, fatigue, and headache. One of the main complications of Shingles is a condition called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and it is because of miscommunication between the damaged nerve fibers of the skin and the brain; These nerves send wrong messages of pain to the brain. In this condition, there is no rash or blisters on the skin, but people complain of burning pain, numbness, tingling or/ itchiness of the skin that would linger for months in some cases and has an impact on the quality of individuals’ lives.

Western medicine offers anti-viral drugs, corticosteroid injections, etc. Shingles can be treated naturally and away from the side effects of the western medications. At the onset of the infection, acupuncture and Chinese medicine have proved to be very effective in treating both the acute stage and the preventing & treating the post herpetic neuralgia phase of Shingles.  Acupuncture uses fine, sterile needles into specific points of the body to stimulate and activate the Qi and blood circulation. In this condition, acupuncture helps accelerate the healing of the shingles lesions, and reduce the chance of Post herpetic Neuralgia development.  In case of occurrence of Post herpetic neuralgia, acupuncture works wonders to treat the condition. Chinese herbal medicine is used in combination with acupuncture to speed up the recovery process. In general, acupuncture helps restore the balance of the energy flow in the body and prevent the reoccurrence of herpes zoster infection as well.

Need Help Treating Your Shingles?

In our clinic, we evaluate the underlying causes of shingles in every individual and we recommend lifestyle changes, and dietary changes according to the individuals’ bodily imbalances. For More Information call Zahra Acupuncture clinic at 778-847-2026. Our North Vancouver clinic is conveniently located at Neurogenesis Clinics, Marine Drive.

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