Shingles is a viral infection that develops in some adults that have had chicken pox at one time. Most people will recover from shingles without any lasting effect. A small percentage of patients will have a difficult time with the pain.
In those instances, the pain can last for several months, years and even for the rest of a patient’s life. When this occurs, a patient is said to have postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). The virus will have damaged nerves in the skin causing the patient to experience pain in a mild form or so severe that even a slight touch is excruciating.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the virus that causes the chicken pox. When a person contracts the chicken pox or has the virus introduced into the body through a vaccine, the virus will lay dormant in the body. When the body’s immune system is compromised or becomes weak, shingles can surface.
Symptoms for shingles include:
- Persistent rash
- Burning sensation where the rash is present
- Extreme pain where the rash is
- Flu like symptoms without the fever
- Sensitivity to light