What Are Some After Effects From the Shingles?

Shingles (herpes zoster) can erupt years after having chickenpox from the dormant viral infection that remains in your body. The malady tends to show up on only one side (hemisphere) of your body with tingling, sometimes painful nerve inflammation under the skin that appears on the skin as a rash. The Merck-sponsored ShinglesInfo.com website states that about 1 million cases of shingles show up in the United States yearly, mostly in older people. Mild cases clear up by themselves through your body's immune system, but more serious cases may need medication and can have serious aftereffects.

Postherpetic Neuralgia

Long after the shingles rash disappears, you may feel a pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). ShinglesInfo.com states this painful condition may continue to irritate the sufferer for months or even years after the initial inflammation has cleared up. PHN is the most commonly reported aftereffect of shingles.

Secondary Infection

Dr. Robert Johnson of the Bristol Royal Infirmary states in the International Herpes Management Forum website that bacteria from secondary infection can cause continued problems. If bacteria from the open pustules in the skin spread to infect the blood and organs, systemic damage and blood poisoning could result. More likely, unsightly skin discoloration or marking will show the aftereffects of shingles.

Loss of Vision

One serious aftereffect of shingles occurs when herpes zoster attacks the nerves in the area of the eye. The Mayo Clinic says this condition, called ophthalmic shingles, could potentially lead to vision loss. Because of possible vision loss, any suspected shingles rash erupting near the eye is treated more aggressively with antiviral medications than milder cases on other parts of the body.

Neurological Aftereffects

Shingles can cause a variety of neurological aftereffects if the viral infection attacks certain parts of the body. the Mayo Clinic says that if the viral infection attacks the brain, inflammation (encephalitis) can occur. Inflammation in or around the ears can cause hearing and balance problems. Nerve inflammation around the facial muscles could cause facial paralysis.

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