If you’re like me, you most likely have never heard of this disease before. Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is a skin rash caused by the Varicella Virus, or better known as the Chicken Pox Virus. Even though they sound similar, Herpes Zoster and Genital Herpes are not the same disease. Singles is not a sexually transmitted disease, and has nothing to do with how sexually active you are. However, they are similar in their breakouts, the bumpy rash you get with shingles, is the same type of bumps you get with Herpes. They are also similar in how contagious they are, skin to skin contact can spread both of these viruses. Other than that, the two are completely different, and their origins differ as well.
Shingle’s rash only affects a limited area of the skin, and is usually associated with pain. People most commonly get this rash on their hands, their arms, their legs, and sometimes they might get a breakout on their face or their ears. The pain associated with this rash is said to feel like sharp stabbing pains. Others have even said that it made them feel tired, run down, and even depressed. Shingles usually, only affects a small section on one side of your body. Pain is usually the first symptom, as well as burning, numbness, or tingling. The red blistering rash begins a few days after the pain begins. People are the most contagious during this stage, and are most likely to spread the virus to another person before the bumps even appear. The blisters will break open and crust over, this generally causes itching and discomfort. Some people also experience fever, chills, general achiness, head ache, and fatigue.
Shingles has existed since the middle ages, and was a huge scare to those who had no idea what it was. It was actually mistaken for small pox at first, which was the prevalent disease at the time. The origin of where it came from wasn’t discussed until 1831, by a scientist named Richard Bright, who hypothesized that it was carried by the spinal ganglion. Spinal ganglion is a cluster of nerve cell bodies that attach to the base root of a spinal nerve. So theoretically, this virus actually lives in the nerves of your spine. This is also the main reason why shingles is said to be so painful. Doctor Felix Bärunsprung agreed with Bright, and in 1861, he confirmed this hypothesis when he performed the first postmortem examination, also known as an autopsy. The medical community didn’t recognize the severity of the shingles symptoms until the 1950’s, before then, it was thought to be painless and harmless. The word herpes is derived from the Greek word herpein ("to creep"), referring to the latent, recurring infections of this virus. Zoster comes from Greek word zōstēr, meaning "belt" or "girdle", after the characteristic belt-like dermatomal rash. The common name for the disease, shingles, derives from the Latin word cingulum meaning "girdle".
As many as one million Americans will be affected by Herpes Zoster, which is 20% of the general population. Studies have also shown that this disease is often more common in women than it is in men. Also, people tend to get this virus when they are older, and it is rare if someone is diagnosed with shingles at a young age. Scientist still don’t understand why women tend to deal with this more than men, or why adults experience this more than children. They are looking more into if it has to do with an individual’s genetic composition.
More than 1 in every 10 people who had chicken pox as children will get shingles as an adult. When a child gets the chicken pox, we believe that after it goes away that the virus is gone. This is not true; in fact after the chicken pox will disappear, but the virus will never leave your system. The virus will become dormant, and it will stay dormant in your nerve cells. Every person that you see that has experienced chicken pox at least once has this virus, but no one can notice, because it is not active. Most of the time people can