Symptoms And Treatment Of Eye Shingles
An attack of shingles affecting any part of the body is no fun, and eye shingles can be especially uncomfortable, not to mention potentially quite serious. Shingles generally affects people over 50, and only those who have had chickenpox at some point earlier in life. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Once we have been infected by the virus, our immune system builds up an effective defense against it, which is why we seldom hear of anyone getting chickenpox more than once. It is one of those childhood diseases that once you're infected, you are "forever" immune to getting it again.
A Mutant Virus - What happens is the varicella virus doesn't go away. It stays and mutates into another virus, the herpes zoster virus, which is what causes shingles. It is commonly believed that our immune system holds the herpes zoster virus in check throughout our lives, but if our immune system becomes weakened or otherwise compromised, the herpes zoster virus may rear its ugly head with the result being an attack of shingles.
Symptoms Of Shingles - Shingles is characterized by an area of the body first becoming sensitive to the touch and then painful. Eventually a rash may form, followed by the appearance of tiny blisters. The condition may last several days or several weeks, and at times pain persists even after the blisters have gone away. It's usually the lower half of the body, particularly the waist or legs that are affected, but at times the upper part of the body can be involved including the face, eyes, or nose.
Eye Shingles Dangers - Eye shingles is a particularly serious case of shingles if for no other reason than permanent damage to the eye is always a possibility. Damage may result from the herpes zoster virus itself attacking the cornea or optic nerve, or from a secondary infection when the skin around the eye is affected. Even shingles affecting the nose should be treated promptly to avoid a of an eye infection. In any event, a physician should be seen immediately if any symptoms suggestive of eye or nose shingles occur.
Symptoms Of Eye Shingles - Symptoms of eye shingles are much like symptoms of shingles affecting other parts of the body. The initial symptoms will often be that the area around the eye will feel sensitive to the touch. Not always painful at first, but definitely a feeling that is abnormal. The next stage will be one of genuine discomfort in the form of itching, pain to the touch, or deep stabbing pain. The eye may begin to appear inflamed, and may begin to water. Vision may become blurred. The next stage will be the appearance of a rash. A rash does not always accompany an attack of shingles, but will be present in the large majority of cases. After a few days, tiny blisters appear. They are usually filled with a clear liquid and are red at the base. The hands should be kept away from the eyes at all times during a case of shingles, but especially so when blisters are present, to avoid the possibility of opening one or more, and having them become infected.
Treatment Of Eye Shingles - After several days, the blisters will begin to dry up and disappear. The pain will usually subside, and in most cases go away completely. Since shingles attack nerve endings however, there are instances in which the pain lingers on, perhaps for a very long time. A large part of shingles treatment has to do with soothing the affected area and relieving pain as much as is possible. Treatment often involves placing wet compresses or dressings on the eyes to relieve the pain and itching. Compresses dampened with a solution of aluminum acetate can be quite effective, as are lotions or creams that contain calamine.
A physician is very likely to prescribe one of several antiviral medications, such as Valtrex and Famvir, with Zovirax also considered to be quite effective, and is in fact the most commonly prescribed medication. These medications serve the dual purpose of relieving pain and hastening recovery from the virus. Valtrex is often the medication of choice for the more severe attacks of shingles.
Don't Procrastinate! - While the symptoms of eye shingles will normally prompt a person to seek early treatment, the importance of such early treatment cannot be overemphasized, as the patient's vision may be at stake.