There is a lot of confusion surrounding the varicella-zoster virus. Because of the way it physically affects people, the symptoms can be misleading. While the virus is, in fact, one virus, it can create two types of health conditions.
What Is The Varicella Zoster Virus?
The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for two separate conditions: chickenpox and shingles. Most people are familiar with chickenpox, and a significant percentage of those over forty have personally experienced it.
Chickenpox is frequent during childhood. Because it is easily and quickly spread throughout multiple ways, children can be very contagious. Not only can it be contracted through the saliva or mucus of other children, but it is also airborne.
Sneezing and coughing are possible ways to catch this virus. Although it involves no direct touch, the droplets can easily infect others. Once a child or adult has had chickenpox, they are unlikely to experience the same symptoms again.
Shingles, also known as the herpes zoster virus, is a condition that has different symptoms than those of chickenpox. Although it stems from the same virus, it can feel much more severe. Since the varicella-zoster virus lays dormant after experiencing chickenpox, it becomes the herpes zoster virus when the virus is activated again.
Herpes viruses all have a similar structure. While the viruses may be genetically identical, they all have their separate set of symptoms. While chickenpox is known to cause severe itchiness in the form of red spots, the herpes zoster virus causes a painful rash.
Is The Herpes Zoster Virus Dangerous?
The herpes zoster virus can have numerous symptoms that range from mild to severe. Much like chickenpox, children usually experience milder symptoms than adults.
The main symptom of the herpes zoster virus is a rash. While some rashes involve light skin irritation, this particular rash is often large and quite painful. Fluid-filled blisters will appear approximately two to three days after showing signs of infection.
Before the rash forms, many people notice a tingling or burning sensation somewhere on the body. This is likely where the rash will appear. For those who are unfamiliar with the virus, this sensation can feel like a stroke. One arm or one side of the neck can feel numb for about a day before the skin turns a reddish color.
Rashes, while often very painful, are not usually dangerous. The best ointment for shingles will provide hydration to the area; Since shingles ointment is designed to ease pain immediately, the treatment is very effective with children and adults.
Aside from pain, there are certain complications to keep in mind. Since the herpes zoster virus can occur anywhere on the body, this includes the entire facial region and behind the ears. If the rash infects the inside of the ear or eye, this can have major ramifications. Complications from this virus include hearing and vision loss.
How Does The Virus Spread?
The herpes zoster virus is not easily contagious like chickenpox. While it can be spread from person to person, it is not airborne.
Simply breathing near another person or coughing or sneezing is unlikely to infect another human being. Most people experience the herpes zoster virus because they already had chickenpox. Since the varicella-zoster virus lay dormant from chickenpox, it was simply reactivated.
Although the herpes zoster virus isn’t considered highly contagious, it can be spread. Once the blisters begin to heal, they will crack open and expose their fluid. If an individual comes in contact with this fluid, they can become infected.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to cover herpes zoster rashes. Although tight cloth may feel uncomfortable, it can reduce the spread of the virus. This can be done by wearing loose clothing so that the rash does not come in direct contact with the fabric. Using some form of barrier to shield the rash from bacteria and prevent the infection of others is highly recommended.
When To Call A Physician
A physician should be notified if the virus is suspected. Before any rash occurs, most individuals feel sluggish with muscle aches and a fever. Headaches, sweating, and fatigue may seem innocuous, but if a rash occurs too, this could indicate the herpes zoster virus.
A primary care physician is likely able to diagnose the issue. Dermatologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat many skin conditions, including the herpes zoster virus. By examining the rash, this can be determined relatively quickly with minimal testing necessary.
If the rash spreads to other areas of the body, this can be a sign of secondary infection. Open blisters that are not covered with cloth or gauze can become infected with bacteria. This usually coincides with a high fever. If a bacterial infection has occurred inside the rash, antibiotics are used as the first line of treatment.
A rash that lasts longer than ten days can happen but may be worrisome. Rashes should decrease over a week or two. If there is no progress with burning or itching symptoms and the affected area is still blistering, calling a physician is recommended.
In some cases, a pharmacist or a clinic can help with this type of treatment. Other over-the-counter medicines also exist in many grocery and drug stores.
The Best Ointment For Shingles
Shingles ointment is frequently used to reduce pain immediately. For rashes that create a severe burning sensation, topicals can be applied for quicker relief. This is ideal for irritated skin that may not respond well to gauze or cloth covering.
Ointments that contain several different chemicals can create a burning sensation. This is especially true if an over-the-counter treatment has alcohol as the main ingredient. An ointment is usually a thicker substance than solutions with alcohol and may also provide a cooling sensation.
In addition to easy treatment options, the varicella-zoster virus vaccine can potentially prevent both the herpes zoster virus and chickenpox. This vaccine can be administered in a doctor’s office for both adults and children.