Herpes Zoster

Disease information

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Herpes Zoster
Herpes to zóster.

It is the reactivation of a latent virus or in lethargy (varicela) quartered in the central nervous system.

When the virus activates, it extends through the nervous system, by the ganglia by the dorsal roots of the sensitive nerves of the spinal marrow, causing the appearance of blisters (vesicles) characteristic, of segmental distribution (that follows the route of the nerves)

It can appear to any age but commonest it is than one appears as of the 50 years.


The sarpullido one disappears in about 14 to 21 days.

The pain in the nerve can persist during a month more or even more.

The first episode normally immunizes against herpes to zóster, but not always, being able to suffer more of an attack.


Secondary infections in the blisters of herpes to zóster.

Chronic pain that persists during months or years in the sensorial nerves in the place where appeared the blisters (post - herpética neuralgia) one occurs specially in the people of the third age.

Ulceración of the cornea, if the eye is affected.

Diagnosis and treatment.


The diagnosis is not possible normally until he appears the sarpullido one.

Before their appearance, the symptoms can simulate a viral disease, appendicitis, pleuresia or other affections.

The diagnosis tests will include analysis of laboratory blood and cultures of the emanante liquid of the blisters, as well as a biopsy of skin (this one last one in rare occasions)


The primary target of the treatment is to alleviate to the maximum picazón and the pain, normally with oral medication and of topical use.

General Measures.

When bathing, it washes and it dries the blisters delicately.

It does not sell the wounds.

Apply humid compresas you cold if this alleviates the pain to him.

Sumérjase in lukewarm or the full fresh water bathtub in which it has previously thrown an oatmeal or fécula of maize.

The most difficult treatment is the one of the pain in the route nerve, that can remain once the skin is left free from blisters (postherpética Neuralgia)

Unfortunately, at the present time, it does not have prevention.


Apply a calamine lotion on the blisters.

In order to reduce the annoyances, it uses medicines without medical prescription, like paracetamol.

Use analgesic more forts if outside necessary, like the combinations with codeine.

Use tranquilizers during a brief period.

Also him a anti - viral medication can be prescribed.

The injections to block the nerve will be prescribed by the doctor in cases of gravity.

Factors of risk.

Greater adults of 50 years.

Medicine use against the cancer or inmuno - depressive.

Diseases that reduce the resistance of the organism, like:

Disease of Hodgkin.

Leukemia or linfoma.

Radiation or surgery.


The only prevention would consist of not undergoing varicela, reason why - today per today it is not possible to prevent herpes to zóster.

Yes the one that is very intense, by means of the taking, more precociously possible can be come up, of a antiviral medicine (Aciclovir or Famciclovir) although their cost, indirect effect and the necessity to take as rapidly as possible prevent it their generalized use.


Herpes to zóster is caused by herpesvirus to varicela - zóster, the same virus that causes varicela.

It can remain in lethargy in the spine until "it is waked up" by certain factors of risk.

Not yet all the factors are known risk.

Signs and symptoms.

To the 4 or 5 days of the appearance of inespecíficos general symptoms (chills, fever, malaise, nauseas and diarrea) they appear in a zone of the skin that previously usually is put specially sensible, painful red blisters.

The blisters appear on a wide strip of skin reddened throughout the routes of the sensorial nerve in a determined zone of the skin.

They appear more frequently in the chest and abdomen and in the face and they only extend by half of the body.

They cause painful pain or quemazón in the affected skin.

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