Herpes also known as ‘shingles' is a painful skin disease which is characterized by fluid or pus-filled blisters on one side of the body. It initially begins with rash and develops into red patches which later form blisters and become sore. It usually occurs in persons of middle or old age. Men and women are equally vulnerable to this infection.
How does one gets Shingles?
Herpes or shingle is caused by varicella zoster virus. Once the individual gets chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in the nervous tissue. Under certain circumstances such as emotional stress, immune-compromised state such as AIDS or during chemotherapy, or with the cancer the virus reactivates and causes Shingles. The risk for shingles increases if a person has experienced chicken pox earlier.
Causative organism is ‘varicella zoster virus’.
Factors that trigger the reactivation of the virus:
Stress- physical or emotional
Poor nutritional status
Weakened immunity due to other infections
Immuno-compromised individuals (suffering from AIDS, transplant recipients, etc.)
Certain medicines like steroids etc.
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy
Persons above 50 yrs.
Persons with previous history of chicken pox
Children during chicken pox epidemic
Persons with poor immunity
Source of Infection
Transmitted from contact with an infectious area of the skin during symptomatic phase of the disease.
From affected person to children or adults who have not had chickenpox.
Similar to chickenpox, the time prior to healing or crusting of the blisters is the contagious stage of shingles.
Once all of the blisters are crusted over, the virus can no longer be spread and shingles is no longer contagious.
Symptoms and Signs
Initially rash with fever, headache and malaise.
The rash looks erythematous with blisters and sores.
Burning pain, itching and tingling. The rash appears in band form.
Sometimes it may begin with burning pain and rash will appear later.
The pain is more in the affected sensory nerve as the virus travels into the nerve to get into the skin.
The pain is sometimes associated with hyperesthesia (oversensitivity) or paresthesia (pins, tingling).
New blisters keep coming which are fluid-filled and highly painful. These blisters later on form crust which falls off within 2-3 weeks.
Involvement of ophthalmic nerve leads to redness of eyes, dryness, and sensitivity to light. It may even lead to blindness, corneal ulceration, scarring etc.
The pain with shingles usually lasts for 3- 5 weeks but a condition called post-therapeutic neuralgia may occur where the pain is more debilitating and lasts upto 6 months as the nerve takes time to heal.
Shingles is contagious.
Loss of vision
Peripheral facial nerve weakness
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a science based on the ‘law of Similars’. It is the science which deals with restoring the health of the person back to normal and not just merely treating a specific part or organ. It treats the person and not the disease. It considers that every cell, every tissue, every organ in the body works in harmony with each other. When this harmony is disturbed there occurs an imbalance in the body and disharmony occurs. This disharmony is expressed at any level; usually the expression is on the outer level (skin) initially. If the lesion on the skin is not treated properly it leads to suppression of the outer expression on skin and leads to involvement of inner organs. Thus, Homeopathy treats the person as a whole by considering the psychosomatic aspects of the person.
How dose Homeopathy helps in treating herpes?
According to Homeopathy every expression on the skin has some internal cause. No disease exits externally without an internal cause. It doesn’t believe in treating a part or an organ of the body but the person as whole. It recognizes diseases having both physical and psychological components. Hence, Homeopathic medicines are given by considering patient’s psycho-somatic aspect. In case of herpes, as the person’s immunity to fight against the disease lowers down, homeopathic medicine in minute doses stimulates the body’s defense mechanism, boosts up the immunity and develops resistance against the disease.
Homeopathic treatment aims to limit the severity and duration of pain, shorten the duration of a shingles episode and reduce complications.
In the initial stages, where the disease is in an acute phase, acute medicine is prescribed where there is initially pain, inflammation, blister formation etc.
In cases where the pain persists for a longer duration with much deeper involvement of nerve constitutional medicine may be given considering the physical as well as mental make-up of the person.
Homeopathic medicines work at two levels:
Taking care of the acute symptoms
Preventing recurrence of the infection
Overall, the medicines improve the immunity of the individual so that he doesn't fall prey to recurrent infections.
The homeopathic approach to treatment of Herpes Zoster (or any other disease) is called as the 'Constitutional approach'.
Based on the study of all these factors, a single Homeopathic remedy is selected which covers all the important features and helps in curing the disease in that patient. The medicine not only helps in alleviating the lesions, the pain and the discomfort associated with Herpes Zoster but it also helps in preventing outbreaks in future. It also helps in preventing the development of complications of Herpes Zoster.