Herpes Zoster – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

December 22 20:54 2019 Print This Article

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a painful, blistering rash caused by the chickenpox (varicella) virus, which affects only a limited area of skin, and makes you feel surprisingly tired, run down, and even depressed. Shingles incidence is high in the elderly, as well as in any age group of immunocompromised patients. Herpes zoster may be associated with a secondary bacterial infection (typically streptococcal or staphylococcal) of the vesicular rash.

Herpes zoster involving the second branch of the trigeminal nerve may be associated with conjunctivitis, keratitis, corneal ulceration, iridocyclitis, glaucoma, and blindness Herpes zoster can cause several problems with the eye and surrounding skin that may have long term effects. Inflammation and scarring of the cornea, along with conjunctivitis and iritis are typical problems that require treatment.  In some cases, the retina and optic nerve are involved.

Eye problems caused by severe or chronic outbreaks of herpes zoster may include:  glaucoma, cataract, double vision, and scarring of the cornea and eyelids.

Causes of Herpes Zoster

Common causes of Herpes Zoster

  • Cornea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Iritis
  • Retina
  • Optic nerve
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataract
  • Eyelids

Symptoms of Herpes Zoster

Common Symptoms of Herpes Zoster

  • Fever
  • General feeling of malaise
  • Headache
  • Lymph node swelling
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Taste abnormalities
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Loss of eye motion
  • Hearing loss
  • Joint pain
  • Genital lesions
  • Abdominal pain

Treatment of Herpes Zoster

Common Treatment of Herpes Zoster

  • Avoid contact with people who may be more susceptible to contracting the disease.
  • Lotions (ie, Calamine) may help relieve discomfort.
  • Pain medicines (analgesics), mild to strong, may be needed to control pain.
  • Antihistamines may be used topically (direct application to the body) or orally (by mouth) to reduce itching. Zostrix, a cream containing capsaicin (an extract of pepper), may prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may occasionally be used to reduce inflammation and risk of post-herpetic neuralgia.
  • Initial therapy may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).