Herpes zoster (shingles) is an infectious disease characterized by loss of skin and nerve tissue. 4 to 12 new cases per 100 thousand population are reported annually in different countries. The vast number of patients are people over 50 years old, who had suffered from chickenpox. The disease is fraught with development of severe complications for the nervous system, and therefore requires early treatment.
The diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms. The patients report malaise and fever. The watery blisters in the form of strips appear on one side of the body or in different places. A characteristic feature of the rash becomes severe pain.
If the disease progress is untypical, the laboratory confirmation is possible. To this end, the physician takes a scraping from the affected skin, which is then sent for microbiological examination.
At early stages, shingles is treated on an outpatient basis. The primary goals of treatment are relief of acute symptoms and prevention of complications.
To combat the causative agent, various antiviral drugs are prescribed, such as
The drugs are administered according to the regimen prescribed by a physician until complete disappearance of lesions.
Pain is eliminated by:
- neural blockades (anesthetic or steroid solutions are injected into the peripheral nerves or the spinal canal).
The bubbles shall be treated with aniline dyes, antiviral or interferon ointments and gels with lidocaine.
Itching is eliminated by antihistamines. If the patient complains about inability to sleep, s/he shall be additionally prescribed sedatives or anxiolytics.
Some patients feel a good effect from physical treatments:
- ultraviolet radiation,
- laser therapy,
- electrophoresis with novocaine,
- ultrasound therapy.
A specific set of techniques is chosen by a physician individually.
Gangrenous and common forms of the disease are treated in hospitals. Along with antiviral drugs, the patients are prescribed angioprotectors, antibiotics and ganglioplegic drugs.
After rash removal, the patient should continue treatment with a neurologist.