Symptoms and treatment of herpes zoster and causes of herpes zoster in adults

Shingles is a rather serious disease with damage to the nerve regions. In some cases, it proceeds easily, in others, after treatment, the person gets rid of this problem forever, and in some, herpes zoster leads to serious complications. Below we will look at how herpes zoster manifests itself in different parts of the body, we will analyze how to treat herpes zoster and talk about the causes and consequences of this disease. First, let’s look at what shingles is.

What is shingles

To understand what herpes zoster is, you need to consider its causative agent. Shingles is caused by a type 3 herpes virus called Varicella zoster. This strain of the herpes virus enters the body as early as childhood and causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains in the host’s body forever. And in the future, under certain circumstances, it recurs and causes shingles in adults or in children, if the child has already had chickenpox earlier.

Shingles is a recurrent type 3 herpesvirus called herpes zoster or herpes zoster. It manifests itself either in the form of rashes with different localization in the body, or without a rash, and is caused by neuralgic lesions of those body systems where it manifests itself.

The incubation period for herpes zoster can last for many years. Most often, herpes zoster manifests itself in the elderly between the ages of fifty and eighty years, they account for more than sixty percent of all recurrences of herpes zoster. Until the age of twenty, herpes zoster has less than ten percent of manifestations.


The causes of shingles are always associated with an instability of the immune system. Relapses occur for many reasons, but they will always indicate an inability of the immune system to suppress the virus in the body. When a person has had herpes zoster, the human body begins constant immune suppression. That is, it will suppress the virus throughout its life until the defense mechanisms fail.

In this regard, when shingles is considered, its causes of relapse must be associated with a suppressed immune system. Let’s look at the reasons that can lead to a malfunction of the immune system and the activation of the zoster virus:

radiotherapy and radiation therapy;

cancers and oncological formations;

transferred surgical operations;


organ transplant;

taking antibiotics and medications that kill the immune system;

depression and stress;

hypothermia or overheating.

In addition to the obvious reasons for the suppression of the immune system for most people, such as AIDS, taking antibiotics, or organ transplants, immunity can weaken even under stressful situations. Let’s say that many people make a mistake during hardening when they take a contrast shower and choose a large temperature range. A sudden change in body temperature produces a stress hormone that affects the functioning of the immune system. In order for immune suppression to work, it is necessary to exclude all methods of vital activity aimed at testing immunity for strength.

Doctors have not found the reasons that cause shingles in humans other than a decrease in the protective functions of the body. Therefore, with herpes zoster, there is only one reason, and there are a lot of ways to cause it.

When hardening, especially systemic, you should not lower the water temperature below 22 degrees and increase it above 39 degrees. If you adhere to this range, the immunity will get stronger, and if you make a stronger contrast, the immunity will be gradually depressed.


The symptoms of herpes zoster should be divided into two forms – the typical manifestation and the atypical form. First, we will look at how the usual course of shingles manifests itself, and then we will analyze the cases of atypical manifestations. And after that, you can clearly see what herpes zoster looks like, localized in different parts of the body.

Typical manifestation of shingles

The first stage is the prodromal period. The symptoms of shingles during the prodromal stage are observed for two to four days. In this case, painful sensations of a neuralgic nature of that nervous zone begin, where a herpetic rash will appear in the future. There may be problems with the gastrointestinal tract, the temperature rises to 39 degrees and the regional lymph nodes increase. A distinctive feature of the manifestation of herpes zoster are tingling on the nerve site where the virus begins its activity.

The second stage is the phase of rashes. The rash appears at a distance from each other. At this stage, bubbles of different sizes appear from about two to five millimeters. At first, they just look like reddened spots, and after three or four days the spots turn into vesicles characteristic of a herpetic rash, or, as they are also called, vesicles. With a typical manifestation, the vesicles are somewhat reminiscent of herpes rashes on the lips in color and shape.

The third stage is crust formation. After about two weeks, with proper treatment, the symptoms of herpes zoster approach the healing of the skin, but the neuralgic symptoms remain. New skin forms under the vesicles, and herpetic vesicles gradually become crusted, begin to dry out and fall off. After crust formation falls off, barely noticeable age spots remain on the skin.

Atypical symptoms of herpes zoster

Signs of shingles with atypical forms of the course are expressed by the following types:

Mild or abortive form. In this form, a vesicular rash does not appear, but neuralgia remains.

Severe or gangrenous form. It often manifests itself with a strong immunodeficiency and is characterized by an intensified rash, which, encircling the localization, constantly changes movement. This is expressed by the constant appearance of new rashes.

Bubble shape. Vesicles increase in size, group and form a large area of ​​rashes, seemingly with ragged boundaries of the lesion.

Generalized form. With serious disorders of the immune system after typical rashes, herpes zoster begins to affect large areas of the skin and mucous membranes.

Bullous form. This form is expressed by the combination of vesicles adjacent to one large papules.

Before treating shingles, you need to make sure that this is it. Until herpes zoster gives clear symptoms, it is impossible to determine the disease, since neuralgic symptoms may indicate other diseases.


Treatment for herpes zoster involves complex immunostimulating, vitamin and antiviral therapy. In addition, the treatment of shingles in adults can be more difficult than in adolescents, who in some cases may even suffer the disease without treatment.

Herpes zoster should be treated immediately after the onset of the primary symptoms. With shingles, the treatment plan is aimed at getting rid of the symptoms of rashes, reducing the risk of complications, and adjusting the immune system. The need for timely treatment and rapid suppression of the virus encircling the trunk in the form of herpes on the body in the rib area is advisable in order to avoid postherpetic neuralgia. Which often manifests itself as intercostal neuralgia with the development of the disease along the intercostal nerve, in contrast to the manifestations of herpes zoster on the neck or on the leg.

Drug treatment plan

Let’s look at how to treat shingles using complex drug therapy:

Antiviral drugs for topical use. One of the main types of drugs that are taken for all manifestations of herpes infection are antiviral agents. For herpes zoster, treatment with a topical antiviral will help fight the rash faster. Of the funds it is worth highlighting – Acyclovir, Zovirax and Panavir.

Antiviral for oral administration. Naturally, in order to cure shingles, it is not enough to simply smear it and it is necessary to take antiviral in the form of pills, since their actions more effectively fight the virus from the inside. Of the tablet drugs are often prescribed – Acyclovir, Valtrex, Famvir, Valacyclovir.

Pain relievers. In order to fight pain, NSAIDs (non-steroidal antiviral drugs) are prescribed, they not only suppress pain, but also relieve inflammation. And also to combat pain symptoms, ointments with a lidocaine base are often prescribed. Of the NSAIDs, the following drugs can be distinguished – Nimesil, Meloxicam and Naproxen.

Antihistamines. Taking antihistamines is necessary to relieve itching, which can be very severe. Regardless of where the symptoms of the rash appear, on the neck, on the leg or on the trunk, the skin will ache at the slightest touch and will not scratch it. Of the antihistamines, Tavegil and Suprastin should be distinguished.

Vitamin therapy. In order to prevent active tissue destruction, B vitamins are prescribed. With an individual approach to treatment, they can be prescribed in the form of tablets or in the form of injections. In addition to tissue healing, vitamin therapy works as pain relievers in combination with medications.

Antibiotics If pyoderma develops or a bacterial infection occurs in parallel with herpes zoster, antibiotics such as Gentamicin, Tetracycline, or Oxacillin are often prescribed.

Concomitant therapy

When treating shingles in humans, therapy implies an individual approach, since the virus can proceed in parallel with other pathologies of the body in the form of immunodeficiency or other infections. Therefore, only the attending physician should deal with the treatment.

Let’s look at a few more methods of therapy that, in certain cases, are recommended to combat the recurrence of herpes zoster:

Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy treatments are aimed at both fighting the virus and keeping the rashes in check so they don’t grow. To combat herpes zoster, physiotherapy methods are used to use UFO (ultraviolet irradiation) and UHF (exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields).

Topical treatment of the rash for drying. In order for the rash to heal faster, it is advisable to help them in this. To do this, it is recommended to smear the lesion site with Zinc ointment or brilliant green.

Special food. When treating herpes zoster, you need a diet rich in vitamins, good protein and foods that are saturated with trace elements. You should add seafood, dairy, green tea, legumes, vegetables and fruits to your diet.

Interferons. In order to help the immune system fight the virus, it is recommended to maintain immunity with interferons.

In addition to all of the above methods of treatment, it is possible to prescribe Cycloferon intramuscularly or Ribavirin intravenously. And also to relieve the intoxication of the body, five percent glucose and Ringer’s solution are intravenously punctured, and diuretics are prescribed together. If insomnia or anxiety is present, your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills.

Prevention of herpes zoster involves vaccination against the varicella zoster virus. Usually, the vaccine is indicated for adults who have not met the virus, namely, did not have chickenpox in childhood. And also for people who suffer from intercostal neuralgia after relapses of herpes zoster, or those who often suffer from relapses of the disease.


The consequences of herpes zoster are caused not only by postherpetic neuralgia and severe lesions of large areas of the skin. Most serious complications occur, as a rule, on areas of the face, on the neck, in the eyes, but on the leg or arm, herpes zoster can have less serious consequences, but in some cases paralysis of the limbs is possible.

Let’s look at what complications after shingles can arise in more detail:

with the formation of lichen in the eyes, a relapse can lead to blindness;

after lesions of the skin areas, pyoderma is possible, when the rash begins to fester;

after the course of lichen on the limbs or in the area of ​​the nervous system that is associated with them, sometimes paralysis occurs;

from internal disorders of the body can be such consequences as hepatitis, meningoencephalitis, pneumonia, paralysis of the respiratory system;

with relapse of lichen with damage to the facial nerve, paralysis of this nervous system is possible;

relapses in women during pregnancy can lead to miscarriages or brain abnormalities in the baby.

So, we examined the causes and treatment of herpes zoster and summing up, it is worth recalling that in young people with good immune systems, the disease may not require treatment at all. Do not forget that shingles is primarily herpes, which means that in order to exclude its recurrence, it is necessary to carefully approach the issue of a healthy lifestyle and methods of preventing the immune system as a whole. In addition, with the manifested herpetic lesion, there is a danger of other diseases or individual characteristics of the organism, which does not allow resorting to standard methods of treatment. Therefore, with shingles, both symptoms and treatment in adults and children are individual.

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