Why Does Shingles Feel Painful?

Why does shingles feel so painful? Being vaccinated against shingles, by definition, is your best means to prevent shingling pain. However, this is no ordinary painful rash but rather the itchy, painful blisters are not just the nastiest part. A painful condition called posthepetetic neuralgia (PHN) is what keeps on giving for over 10% of those who develop it after a shingle attack.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is a very infectious virus. The virus finds its host, the verruca bean, and attacks it, causing the blisters and rashes. The pain is initially localized at one side of the body and then spreads, becoming agonizing over time. When the pain does appear in more than one place, it is known as “warehouse rash”.

In most cases, the rashes clear up after a couple of days with simple over the counter medications. However, there are some rare complications associated with shingling that have to be treated with medications. The pain often recurs and becomes more severe after two or three days. If it recurs more than three times in a month, a patient must see a doctor. Other complications include:

  • Varicose Veins. One of the complications of shingling is Varicose Veins, which occurs due to damaged valves in the blood vessels. There is an immune response when the body releases the antiviral medications valacyclovir or famciclovir. These drugs can cause the blood vessels to thicken, causing pain. Patients who have had their valves repaired should not take antiviral medications for a month or longer before surgery. If the doctor prescribes antiviral medications, they should only be taken with the approval of the treating physician.
  • Shingles Rash. The development of shingles commonly occurs among people who have higher risk factors for the condition. People who are elderly, pregnant, smokers, and people with poor immune systems are at a higher risk for developing shingles. Elderly people are also prone to developing the condition if they already have a weakened immune system; thus, antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the condition.

Those who get shingles are often at a higher risk for developing chicken pox, since they have been in close contact with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and are more likely to develop VZV infection. However, this does not mean that they are immune to the chicken pox virus and cannot catch the infection. If they do get shingles, they will experience painful blisters similar to those developed by chicken pox. The blisters develop about six weeks after the bite. Blisters usually itch, burn, and feel hot to the touch, but do not actually hurt.

Shingles may cause severe pain because of the sharp pain nerves caused by the infection. The nerves may be irritated, resulting to severe pain. In addition, the inflammation of the skin may result to sores that can cause bacterial infections, leading to secondary bacterial infection in the wounds. Nerve damage can also result to a more serious condition such as meningitis or cerebral aneurysm. All these conditions can cause severe pain and permanent damage to some of the nerves.

When you experience recurrent chicken pox or shingles, then your condition is most likely caused by Phymatous Myositis, which is a more advanced condition than chicken pox. This condition is characterized by symptoms like severe pain, neurological dysfunction, and neurocardiogenic syncope. Phymatous Myositis often affects the arms, legs, and neck. Symptoms can occur up to six months after exposure to the virus or up to three years after. Diagnosis is made with the help of lab tests and blood tests.

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