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What Are the Common after Effects of Shingles?

By Jami Yontz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The common after effects of shingles can be severe or mild depending on the person’s age, health, and the severity of the person’s rash. Vision loss, postherpetic neuralgia, nerve pain, and infection are the most common after effects of shingles. This condition is caused by a virus known as the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Most children will contract chicken pox, but after the rashes are gone the virus will lay dormant in the person’s body. VZV may reappear as shingles in adulthood, usually as the result of an illness or event.

Shingles appears first as unexplained pain in one area, and then a rash will begin to appear. Rashes usually appear around the spinal cord and radiate outward around the body, but the condition can also affect the face. The rash will develop into blisters, which eventually open and scab over. The condition usually only lasts three to five weeks, and the body’s immune system will rid the body of the virus on its own.

One of the after effects of shingles is vision loss. This can occur if the person develops ocular shingles, or shingles that infects the eyes. A person should see a physician as soon as possible if the rash begins to affect the face. If not treated, the infection can cause the person’s vision to be damaged or destroyed.

Postherpetic neuralgia is one of the more serious after effects of shingles. This condition causes the nerves that have been damaged by the virus to continue to send pain signals to the person’s brain even after the rash and blisters caused by shingles have gone away. The damaged nerve fibers will also cause the person’s skin to be extremely sensitive to light, touch and temperature. Antidepressants and pain relievers are usually prescribed to help with the side effects of postherpetic neuralgia. This condition occurs in 10 percent of people who have shingles, and it usually will go away within one year.

The shingles virus can cause the nerves to become inflamed, which can cause permanent damage. Depending on where the virus attacked the body, the person may have neurological problems, muscle weakness, or paralysis of part of the face. The nerve damage could also affect the person’s hearing or sense of taste.

Infection can be one of the after effects of shingles. The blisters that form on the skin will break open and could become infected if not treated properly. Scarring and lesions could also form if the wounds are continually opened or if the scabs are scratched at. People should consult a physician about using antibacterial topical creams, calamine lotion, or natural remedies to treat open blister sores caused by shingles.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997229 — On Dec 01, 2016

Currently taking Lyrica for shingles postherpetic pain and it is most helpful.

By anon989602 — On Mar 13, 2015

Perhaps Lyrica, a relatively new drug for fibromyalgia, would help? It seems to be effective in treating widespread pain.

By anon946630 — On Apr 21, 2014

I had shingles at age 14. Now soon to be turning 44, I still have pain to the point it has slowed and affected my life. Not sure what to do to help.

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