Also commonly known as shingles, Herpes Zoster is a disease that derives from the reactivation of the varicella (chickenpox) virus.

After contracting chickenpox, usually in childhood, the virus will remain dormant in the body and may never manifest again or appear later in life in what we call shingles. This is most common after the age of 70 but can occur earlier too.

Pain and burning in the skin (almost always on one side of the body, not both) may appear before the first blisters appear. Someone who has already had chickenpox will not “contract” shingles from direct contact. Chickenpox can be transmitted to anyone who has never had the disease.

While the presence of bubbles with liquid is visible, contact with pregnant women, immunosuppressed individuals and premature babies should be avoided.

Bubble-shaped spots, with surrounding red skin, can manifest on the scalp or face but most commonly across the chest and abdomen. Gradually, the blisters give way to scabs, in a healing process of 7 to 10 days. In rare cases the area affected can remain painful for months.

Fortunately if caught within the first few days, a course of anti-viral medication can treat the symptoms and reduce the risk of unwanted complications.

If you suspect that you have the disease, do consult your doctor at the Oval Medical Centre as soon as possible.

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