Shingles is an uncomfortable skin rash caused by the herpes zoster virus; the same virus which causes chickenpox. Even though the body can effectively fight and recover from chickenpox, the virus which causes it never fully disappears from the body. It hides within your nerve cells and can be reactivated, causing outbreaks later in life. This rash tends to affect people over 50, but it can also be experienced by younger people.

This condition can be very painful, but there are shingles treatments available and the symptoms can be relieved with anti-viral medication, such as Valtrex. These medications can both reduce the severity of an outbreak and speed up your recovery time.

What causes shingles?

Shingles is a bi-product of chickenpox. Most people catch chickenpox when they are very young. Although the body can recover from chickenpox and prevent further infection, the virus (herpes zoster) is never completely destroyed. The virus becomes dormant and hides within your nerve cells. For reasons which are still not entirely clear, the virus can be reactivated in later life, most likely due to a weakening of the immune system. This tends to be more common in people over 50, although younger people can still suffer from it.

Is it contagious?

Unlike most other infections caused by herpes, shingles is not contagious. You cannot catch shingles if you touch an area of infected skin. However, if you have never suffered from chickenpox, you can catch it from someone with active shingles symptoms. Although chickenpox is not as dangerous to adults as the mumps, you are still at a greater risk of suffering from complications if you catch the virus when you are older.

What are the symptoms?

An outbreak is usually preceded by a burning sensation within your nerves at the affected area. Fever like symptoms follow, and a rash begins to appear two to three days after initial symptoms appear. The rash takes the form of small blisters appearing on red swollen skin. After three to five days the blisters burst and turn into sores. The sores scab over and will heal within a period of two to three weeks.

Some people can experience continuing pain in the affected area. This is known as postherpetic neuralgia and can be difficult to treat. Consult your GP if you are still experiencing significant pain after the visible symptoms disappear.

What causes an outbreak?

It’s not entirely known what causes the virus to become active again, and why some people suffer from shingles and others do not. It is known that shingles can be brought on by the weakening of the immune system, which is why people getting older are more likely to suffer from it. People suffering with HIV and other immune deficiencies are also more likely to experience symptoms. Fortunately, most people with shingles will be unlikely to suffer from more than two to three outbreaks.

Shingles treatments

Although shingles cannot be cured, there are a number of ways to fight the virus. A vaccine called Zostavax is now available for sufferers over 50 without an immune deficiency, which can reduce the chances of experiencing an outbreak by 50% over a four-year period.

For most people, however, particularly those who need to treat the immediate symptoms, anti-viral medication is recommended. The two most common anti-viral shingles treatments for this purpose are Famvir and Valtrex:

Valtrex - This anti-viral medication reduces the spread of the shingles rash by more than a third. It helps to reduce uncomfortable symptoms and will help to reduce your recovery time.

Famvir - Famvir can speed up your recovery time by more that two to three days. It can soothe not just the symptoms of the rash, but it can also reduce the nerve pain that sufferers often experience during and after an outbreak.

Buy shingles treatment online

OnlineClinic dispatches anti-viral shingles treatments via next-day delivery courier, so you can start your treatment as soon as possible. When you place your order, you will be asked to complete an online consultation. This will include a number of medical questions, which will be used by our doctor to form a diagnosis. If your chosen shingles treatment is right for you, they will issue a prescription and your order will be processed. If your chosen medication is not right for you, no charge will be made to you and you may be recommended an alternate treatment.