What Is Shingles (Herpes Zoster)?

Shingles is characterized by a painful red rash with blisters that break open and scab over. The herpes zoster virus is to blame for this. Chickenpox is caused by the same virus.

The virus persists in your body’s nerve cells after you have chickenpox. You may not have any symptoms if it remains dormant (inactive). However, the infection can reactivate at any point, causing new issues.

Herpes zoster can reactivate as you get older, especially if you are over 50. This could be related to the normal aging process of your body. It could also be caused by something that weakens your immune system. Here are some of those things:

  • sickness or ailment (such as HIV or other diseases of the immune system)
  • weariness or fatigue
  • Anxiety or stress
  • malnutrition
  • radiation treatment or chemotherapy
  • certain immune-suppressing medications, such as corticosteroids or cyclosporins

what is shingles

Keeping the Shingles Virus From Spreading

Herpes zoster is an infectious disease (passed from person to person). It can only be passed on to people who have not had chickenpox before. Chickenpox, not shingles, develops in someone who is newly infected with the herpes zoster virus.

If you have shingles, stay away from persons who are more susceptible to infection. Infants, pregnant women, and adults with compromised immune systems are all at risk.

what is shingles


Shingles begins with skin tingling, itching, and discomfort. A rash develops as a result of redness and numbness. Blisters form, then scab over as they split apart. Blisters and scabs may remain for several weeks. The tingling and pain can linger for a long time, although it is rarely permanent.

what is shingles

What Is the Impact of Shingles on the Eye?

The herpes zoster virus can create issues if it infects the nerves in the eyes. They may include the following:

  • both your top and lower eyelids have a rash
  • there is redness, burning, and discharge on the inside of your eyelids and the white part of your eye. This is known as conjunctivitis or pink eye
  • irritated eye
  • bacterial eye infections 
  • eyesight problems and heightened sensitivity to bright light
  • Inside your eye, you may experience pain, swelling, and redness (called iritis)
  • the optic nerve behind your eye is swollen (optic neuritis)
  •  disintegration of the cornea’s surface

When shingles attack the eye, you run the risk of developing more severe complications. Glaucoma, cataracts, double vision, and corneal scarring are among them.

what is shingles


The goal of treatment will be to alleviate the rash, edema, and pain associated with shingles. It could include the following:

  • An antiviral is a type of drug that is taken orally. This should be taken as soon as you notice symptoms. Antivirals can reduce the duration and intensity of shingles symptoms.
  • For relief, use cool, moist compresses to your closed eyes
  • Taking specific medications to aid with redness, discomfort, and virus treatment
  • Using eye drops to keep your eyes moist

Other therapies are required if shingles cause glaucoma, cataracts, double vision, or eye scarring. If surgery or other types of treatment are recommended, your ophthalmologist will discuss them with you.


Vaccine for Shingles

Shingrix, a shingles vaccination, is indicated for persons 50 and older. This immunization reduces their chances of contracting the painful shingles disease. On the other hand, the shingles vaccination does not cure active shingles or discomfort that develops after the rash has faded. Consult your doctor about this vaccine and whether it is appropriate for you.

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