Herpes Zoster, also known as shingles, is a viral infection that causes painful fluid-filled blisters in a band-like form, particularly on the torso. It results due to the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox in your childhood, you are likely to get Herpes Zoster any time in the future. After the infection, the chickenpox virus – varicella zoster virus’ particles remain in the nerve roots near the spinal cord in an inactive form. The immune system keeps a check on this virus and prevents it from replicating. It may lie inactive for years or decades together.

Later on, due to certain factors, such as the diseases affecting the immune systems, due to the intake of immunosuppressants, stress, or trauma to that part, the virus may turn active. It then multiplies, travels along with the nerve roots to the skin, and produces the symptoms in the skin area, which is supplied by that nerve.

Who Are at a Risk for Getting Herpes Zoster?

  1. The patients having a history of chickenpox.
  2. The risk increases with the age
  3. The patients who suffer from chronic diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, etc., which weakens the immune system.
  4. The patients on immune-suppressing medicines for diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer or have undergone an organ transplant
  5. The patients taking steroids for a very long time.
  6. Victims of severe accidents
  7. Severe stress – People with severe emotional stress are also at risk of getting Herpes Zoster.


What Are the Symptoms of Herpes Zoster?

Herpes Zoster rash appears as a band of fluid-filled painful blisters commonly on the trunk and chest of the person. The other affected areas can be the ears, eyes, face, nose, genitals, and, rarely, mouth.

Herpes Zoster has 3 Stages:

Stage 1: Preeruptive stageStage before the rash sets in

  • This, which is a pre-eruptive stage, is characterized by the sensation of severe burning and sharp stabbing pain in the areas where the blisters appear.
  • The patient may also experience symptoms, such as fatigue, body pain, headache fever, chills, etc.
  • It lasts for 2-3 days.

Stage 2: Eruptive phase

  • Rash/blisters start to appear in the eruptive phase. Initially, reddish eruptions which fill up with water develop, and, later on, they join to form big fluid-filled bulla. All the rash happens to develop in 3-5 days.
  • The rash is like a stripe on the body, either on the left or right, and it does not cross the midline.
  • The patient will continue to experience the severe burning, stabbing pain in this phase too, and it is very infectious
  • The bulla ruptures, discharges, and blisters become dry, crust formation occurs, and they heal. This takes 10-15 days.

Stage 3: Postherpetic neuralgia

Even after the blisters heal, the patients continue to experience burning, stabbing pains, tingling, numbness, and over-sensitiveness in the affected skin. The pain may last from several years to a lifetime. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.


Complications That May Arise Due to Herpes Zoster:

Herpes Zoster, though is a self-limiting disease, could lead to severe complications depending on the part affected.

  1. Herpes Zoster Oticus: Herpes Zoster Oticus can lead to the Hearing loss. It affects the inner and outer side of the right or left ear and causes facial weakness and a loss of taste on the affected side.
  2. Ophthalmic herpes zoster: It affects one side of the forehead, eyelid, and eye. It can also cause the inflammation of other structures inside the eye and may even cause vision loss.
  3. In patients with severely compromised immunity, it could also affect the brain and the membranes covering it, thereby leading to severe inflammation.
  4. It can cause debilitating Post Herpetic neuralgia.


Diagnosis of Herpes Zoster:

Based on the history given by the patient and the presence of typical Herpetic rash on the body, the doctor diagnoses Herpes Zoster.


How to Take Care of the Herpes Blister Rash?

Here are some helpful tips to take care of the herpes blister rash.

  1. Go for cold fomentation by dipping cloth in the cold water and applying it to the affected part.
  2. Calamine lotion and aloe vera gel could soothe the burning pain.
  3. Cover the rash.
  4. Avoid scratching or touching the rash, and do not allow others to touch the rash.
  5. Wash your hands often.
  6. Avoid contact with newborns, pregnant females, and patients with low immunity.
  7. Avoid contact with people who haven’t taken chickenpox vaccination or suffered from chickenpox.

Homeopathy for Herpes Zoster:

Homeopathy has excellent remedies for the treatment of herpes zoster. There are medicines available for treating every stage of Herpes Zoster, right from the onset of the blisters to postherpetic neuralgia.

  • If given at the very onset of the disease, homeopathy could help cut short the duration of the disease as well as prevent postherpetic neuralgia.
  • If given when eruptions start appearing, it will help promote rapid healing of the eruptions, prevent the infection, and reduce the intensity of the pain.
  • It also helps in the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia.

Homeopathic Remedies for Herpes Zoster:

The commonly used homeopathic medicines are listed below.

  1. Rhus Tox: This homeopathic remedy is recommended when the person suffering from Herpes Zoster develops herpetic blisters with continuous itching, burning and tingling sensation, tendency to scale formation, and a marked redness. When the patient experiences restlessness with painful first motion and feels better on continuing the motion, this homeopathic remedy may help. When the patient feels worse while asleep and in the wet rainy weather and, after having rest, feels better by warmth, rubbing, and motion, Rhus Tox is indicated.
  2. Arsenic album: When the symptoms of herpes zoster are associated with great weakness, feeling of exhaustion, and restless making the patient unable to move due to the weakness, Arsenic album is indicated. It may also help you relieve of immense burning with itching discomfort.  This homeopathic remedy is recommended to the patients who are very fastidious and perfectionist and suffer from the condition. The patient may get aggravated around mid-day and midnight and due to cold and may feel better by warmth. When the patient experiences great thirst but can only take small sips of water at a time, this homeopathic medicine may help.
  3. Ranunculus bulb: This remedy is indicated for herpetic blisters with intense itching which gets worse on touch and contact. For herpes blisters on the chest, fingers, and palms that are bluish and filled with acrid fluid, the Ranunculus bulb is recommended. When the patient is aggravated by cold, open-air, and touch and feels better by warmth, this remedy is indicated.
  4. Apis Mel: When the skin develops red rosy hue, intense burning, stinging pains, soreness, and swelling and the infection makes the patient intolerant to the heat, Apis Mel is recommended. The patient is intolerant to heat and feels better by cold applications. This homeopathic remedy may help alleviate your pain which is identical to the stinging of a bee.
  5. Mezereum: Herpes zoster blisters with severe neuralgic pain, ulcerations, and the formation of thick scabs under which pus develops, Mezereum is indicated. The homeopathic remedy is recommended when the patient suffers from intolerable itching with chilliness which gets worse in the bed at night. The patient feels better in the open air.
  6. Iris Versicolor: This homeopathic remedy is indicated when Herpes Zoster complaints are associated with stomach issues. When the Herpes affecting the right side of the body and pustular eruptions develop, Iris Versicolor may help.

Now that you know how effective homeopathy is in treating herpes zoster, opt for homeopathy if any time you happen to suffer from this viral infection. Obtain relief in herpes zoster with homeopathic treatment.

  • Written by Dr. Yafta S., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah


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