Shingles is caused by the Herpes Zoster virus, which usually occurs after a person has contracted chickenpox. The virus can lie dormant for years and upon its activation causes a painful string of blisters around the torso. While shingles is not a fatal disease, the blisters are immensely painful and can cause several complications if not treated properly.
Causes and Risk Factors
The contagion responsible for the diseaseis the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the person contracts chickenpox, the virus tends to lay dormant and later reactivates as the Herpes Zoster virus. The affected area is generally characterised by large rashes which can turn into oozing blisters. If you have contracted chickenpox at a younger age, there is a higher chance that you will be affected by shingles, although the disease is more common in people aged 50 and above, or those who have otherdiseases or disorders like HIV, Cancer, or a weak immune system. There are several drugs that can also increase the risk of contracting shingles, such as steroids and other special medications such as chemotherapy.
Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles are often confused with cold sores, which are caused by a sexually transmitted Herpes Simplex virus. While the rashes caused by both diseases can make them appear similar, the herpes zoster and herpes shingles are different. The main reason it is often confused with cold sores is because of not the name of its contagion, but its symptoms. Both cold sores and shingles cause red blisters on the skin which are filled with liquid. The rashes often break open allowing the liquid to ooze and crust over. Coming into direct contact with the liquid can cause the virus to be transmitted; although upon contact, the person will develop chickenpox rather than shingles. The blisters can cause immense pain, followed by numbness or a burning sensation. Some additional problems like fever, photosensitivity, extreme fatigue, numbness and headaches may also be experienced.
Treatment for Shingles
There is no cure for shingles, as a virus causes it. Most treatments are meant to suppress the symptoms rather than cure the disease. The blisters can last for about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on their severity. Preventive vaccines are also recommended by the medical authorities, especially for people aged 60 and above.
While the blisters will last for 2 to 3 weeks, irrespective of the medication you take, there are several natural remedies that can help to effectively reduce the pain and the chance of further infection. As shingles are often accompanied with burning, pain, fever and headaches, you can use the following natural methods to reduce your agony.
- Garlic: The medicinal and pain relieving properties of garlic have been well documented in the ancient texts of the Ayurveda. For a condiment that has the power to ward off evil spirits and vampires in the European legends, garlic is one of the best remedies against shingles. Peel and wash around 5 to 6 cloves of garlic. Using a mortar and pestle crush the cloves and grind into a thick paste. Apply the pasteto the affected area and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. Wash off with water and repeat the process 2 to 3 times a day. The antiseptic and anesthetic properties of garlic make it an effective pain reliever that protects the spread of germs. As shingle blisters are susceptible to bacterial infection, it becomes important to keep the affected area as clean as possible.
- Olive Leaf Extract: Also, known as OLE, this powerful antiviral substance was put to medical use in 1969 and is one of the most effective remedies against the Herpes Zoster virus or shingles. Various studies have found that Olive Leaf Extract is able to kill a large number of toxins and viruses, and it had shown several proven benefits against the Herpes Zoster virus. OLE contains a special compound known as Oleuropein which contributes to the bitter taste and the antiviral properties of Olive Leaf Extract. Onceapplied the compound isolates the virus and prevents replication within other cells. Applying Olive Leaf Extract with a cotton bud 4 to 5 times a day will not only remove the blisters in a couple of days, but will also ensure that there are no scars left afterwards.
- Aloe Vera and Honey: Used for a variety of medicinal and cosmetic purposes, Aloe Vera is one of the oldest medicinal plant species known to man. When extracted, Aloe Vera gel is an effective moisturiser and soothes the skin whilst protecting it from dehydration and sunlight. You can use this miracle plant to relieve the burning sensation caused by shingles and to cure the blisters effectively. Peel the Aloe Vera leaves, removing all the thorns and the skin. Extract the gel and collect in a bowl. Add one tablespoon of natural honey to the Aloe Vera gel and mix well. Apply2 to 3 times a day to the affected area after cleansing the area with disinfectant. The gel provides a soothing sensation for the blisters and will also relieve the pain that accompanies shingles.
Shingles is a serious disease and special care should be taken to prevent it from spreading. Taking advantage of the above natural remedies can help you to find instant relief from the pain, whilst also lowering the symptoms and severity of the viral outbreak.