What is Shingles?

Your-Health-Online Back-to-Directory A health article about Shingles from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Also known as herpes zoster, this is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. It affects the nerve endings in the skin.

It can appear anywhere on the body; however, it is most commonly found on the skin of the abdomen underneath the ribs, leading toward the navel. Other commonly affected areas are the vaginal tissues and the inside of the mouth.

Most adults have already contracted chickenpox. This common childhood disease causes a fever and a rash that itches maddeningly, but rarely does any permanent damage.


However, once the varicella-zoster virus enters the body and has caused chickenpox, it doesn't go away. It may lie dormant in the spinal cord and nerve ganglia for years until activated, usually by a weakening (temporary or permanent) of the immune system.

Then the varicella-zoster infection spreads to the very ends of the nerves, causing them to send impulses to the brain that are interpreted as severe pain, itching, or burning, and rendering the overlying skin much more sensitive than usual.

An estimated 90 percent of people who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles. Those who have never had chicken¬pox have very little chance of developing shingles because it is not very contagious.

Most people who get shingles are more than 50 years old or have a weak immune system. For example, you might get shingles if you have cancer, take medicines that weaken your immune system or have the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Signs & Symptoms of Shingles

An attack of shingles is often preceded by three or four days of chills, fever, and achiness. There may also be pain in the affected area. Then crops of tiny fluid-filled blisters surrounded by a red rim appear.


The affected area becomes excruciatingly painful and sensitive to the touch. Shingles causes a painful, blistering rash. Sometimes the pain starts a few days before the rash appears.

The rash begins with reddish bumps. In a few days, these bumps turn into blisters. You might feel a stinging or burning pain. The rash may wrap around your back and chest, or it may be on one side of your face.

Other symptoms can include numbness, fatigue, depression, tingling, shooting pains, swollen and painful lymph nodes, fever, and headache. This phase of shingles lasts seven to fourteen days. The blisters eventually form crusty scabs and drop off. Scarring can occur in severe cases.

What Causes Shingles?

The pain of shingles is caused by an inflammation of the nerve that lies just beneath the skin's surface.

Shingles originates from the same virus which causes chickenpox. The chance of an attack of shingles can be increased by many factors, including stress; cancer; the use of anticancer drugs; spinal cord injuries; and conditions that suppress the immune system, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); or the use of medications such as corticosteriods or cyclosporin.

However, serious illness is not required to activate the virus. Any type of physical or emotional stress can make one susceptible. Often, something as innocuous as a minor injury or a mild cold can lead to an attack in an otherwise healthy person. In most cases, it is never determined just what the trigger is.

Shingles strikes some 750,000 Americans each year. It can appear at any age, but is most common in people over the age of fifty, when immune function naturally begins to decline as a result of aging.

Most cases of shingles run their course within a few weeks. More severe cases may last longer and require aggressive treatment. In some cases, the pain continues for months, even years, after the blisters have disappeared.

This syndrome, called postherpetic neuralgia, is more likely to occur in older people. If shingles develop near the eyes, the cornea may be affected and blindness may result. About 20 percent of persons who get shingles go on to suffer a recurrence of the disease.

For people with immune deficiencies, shingles and its aftermath can be devastating. The disease is capable of affecting the internal organs, attacking even the lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Disseminated shingles can cause permanent injury-including blindness, deafness, or paralysis, depending upon the area of the body that is served by the infected nerves-if it goes unchecked.

Death can occur as the result of a secondary bacterial infection or viral pneumonia brought on by shingles

Risk Factors:

Shingles can also affect your eyes, causing swollen eyelids, redness and pain. Shingles of the eye can cause scars that affect your vision. It can also lead to glaucoma later in life.


• Keep stress to a minimum. Stress reduces the immune system's effectiveness in fighting off infection. Studies have found that people with shingles report having recently been through stressful periods more often than other people.

• See an ophthalmologist if the shingles appear on the forehead, near the eyes, or on the tip of the nose. Untreated ophthalmic herpes zoster can lead to vision loss.

• If you are suffering from a rash or blisters of an unknown origin, see a dermatologist-he or she can administer a test that only takes a few minutes.

• Avoid drafts. Allow the affected area to be exposed to sunlight for fifteen minutes each day. Wash the blisters gently when bathing, and otherwise avoid touching or scratching them.


Shingles is a disease that comes from the dormant chicken pox virus. It often occurs in older people and those with compromised immune systems. A strong burning pain or tingling often in the torso and arms or legs characterizes the disease.

• Cayenne – Cayenne or chili peppers are useful in easing the pain of shingles. These peppers contain capsaicin, which is an ingredient in many topical creams. You can use commercial creams or make your own blend by mixing a small amount of cayenne powder with lotion or aloe. Apply to the affected areas.

• Lemon Balm – This lemon scented herb helps the body fight viruses. You can find lemon balm cream sold commercially, and the product is safe for all ages. You can also take lemon balm internally, most commonly as a tea.

• Licorice – The licorice has virus-fighting ingredients that can inhibit the herpes simplex virus. It also fights inflammation and can be used instead of products containing cortisone without the side effects. Taken internally, it can be used as a tea and is often blended with other herbs for taste. Do not take for longer than 6 weeks at a time, and do not take licorice if you have high blood pressure or a history of heart disease.

• Baikal Skullcap - This is an herb that has been used since ancient times in China. It fights bacteria and infections, so it is helpful in treating shingles as well as many other conditions. Used topically, you can make a paste using the ground root mixed with water. Apply the paste to the affected areas as needed.

Self Care strategies for Living with Shingles

Avoid Peanuts, peanut butter, chocolate, bread.

Keep a bowl of cold water beside your bed, so that at night you can soothe burning sensation with a wet cool facewasher.

Diet change strategies:

Using Ayurveda Therapy:

Some the common herbal home remedies for the treatment of shingles are :-

• Burdock and red clover cleanse both the lymph nodes and the bloodstream.

• Licorice extract can be used topically to treat shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. It appears to interfere with the growth of the virus.

• Bi phaya yaw (Clinacanthus nutans), an herb used in traditional Thai medicine, has been shown in clinical studies to shorten the time it takes to recover from shingles in some cases. It is applied in cream form.

• A combination of oat straw, St. John's wort, and skull¬cap helps to reduce stress and itching. Mix equal amounts of oat straw, St. John's wort, and skullcap tinctures together, and take 1 teaspoon of this mixture four times daily.

• Olive leaf extract aids in fighting the virus of shingles. • Eat plenty of foods that contain vitamin B6, including bananas, nuts, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

Aloe Vera Juice is a refreshing and anti-bacterial drink, you might find that taking this daily, diluted in some filtered water will not only refresh you like ‘a shower inside you’ but also assists in dealing with any digestive issues you may also be experiencing.

You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet

It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?

It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.

Further reading through our articles on Shingles health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this Shingles problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

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Shingles: What It Is, How to Avoid It, and What to Do If You Get It 
Considering that 1 in 3 Americans develop shingles at least once during their lifetime, it’s important to understand the condition and what you can do …

I contracted shingles when I was only 12 years old and it began and spread on the left side of my head and face. It was painful, irritating, and embarrassing. …

herbal treatment with Clinacanthus Nutans 
Pound the leaves of Clinacanthus Nutans and add some wine to it. Apply on the affected area 5-7 times daily until it clears up.

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