Herpes Zoster

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Herpes zoster (HZ) is also called shingles. It is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus). After you get chickenpox, the virus stays in your body for several years without causing any symptoms. HZ occurs when the virus becomes active again. Once active, the virus will travel along a nerve to your skin and cause a rash.

Shingles

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

If left untreated, HZ may cause eye problems, such as a drooping eyelid or blindness. It may lead to a brain infection or stroke. HZ can also cause nerve damage and lead to twitching, dizziness, or loss of taste and hearing. The blisters may leave scars or changes in skin color. HZ may cause pain even after the rash is gone. It may also lead to trouble moving parts of your body.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Antiviral medicine: These help decrease symptoms and healing time. They may also decrease your risk of developing nerve pain. You will need to start taking them within 3 days of the start of symptoms to prevent nerve pain.

  • Pain medicine: You may need NSAIDs, acetaminophen, or opioid medicine depending on how much pain you are in. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more pain medicine.

  • Topical anesthetics: These are used to numb the skin and decrease pain. They can be a cream, gel, spray, or patch.

  • Anticonvulsants: These decrease nerve pain and may help you sleep at night.

  • Antidepressants: These may also be used to decrease nerve pain.

  • Epidural medicine: This is put into your spine to block pain. This medicine treats severe pain that does not get better with other pain medicines. Epidural medicine includes numbing medicine and steroids.

Tests:

Your caregiver may send skin scrapings or fluid from your blisters for tests to see if you have HZ.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Herpes Zoster (Inpatient Care)

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