The varicella-zoster virus can impact people in different ways. Not only do symptoms vary, but so do the actual conditions. The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for two common health conditions: chickenpox and shingles.
What Is The Varicella Zoster Virus?
The varicella-zoster virus only affects humans. Technically this virus is considered a human herpes virus three and can be spread from person to person. Chickenpox, primarily found in children, is highly contagious and is often spread in the late winter and early spring.
Before the chickenpox vaccine, many parents hosted group playdates with a child who had already contracted the virus. Once the children were all together, the virus was passed on to each child. This was done to prevent an adult case of chickenpox. Since the condition is unlikely to infect the same person twice, children developed a milder case of chickenpox to avoid a potentially dangerous issue later on.
The shingles virus is very different. Even mild cases that are developed in childhood can still be quite painful. There is no benefit to spreading this infection. While also caused by the varicella-zoster virus, this condition causes a blistering rash to form on any part of the body. In some cases, rashes can last up to eight weeks. Unlike chickenpox, this infection is usually experienced as an adult.
What Are The Symptoms?
The symptoms of the varicella-zoster virus can vary from mild to severe depending on the individual. Shingles ointment often eases the pain of blistering rashes, but that is not the only symptom.
Muscle weakness is often a scary symptom regardless of the cause. When muscles become numb or feel loose and tingly, this can affect the ability to move. This is especially true if muscle weakness occurs in the legs or on the torso.
Many rashes that stem from the varicella-zoster virus appear on the side of the torso. This can affect the ability to bend or twist. In rare cases, muscle weakness can be felt in the face. Facial weakness may cause slurring or decreased movement.
Muscle weakness that stems from this particular infection is usually temporary. Those who do experience the sensation should still consult with their physician, however. For some people, this condition may turn into paralysis or become permanent. Individuals who are over sixty have a greater likelihood of severe symptoms.
During the first few days, the infection is contracted, many individuals will develop a fever. This is usually accompanied by headaches, sweating, and body aches. Body aches are usually felt all at once and not designated to one specific area.
Nausea is another common problem associated with fever. Vomiting may or may not occur with the varicella-zoster virus, but nausea is not uncommon. During the first week of developing the infection, it is essential to stay hydrated. Drinking water can help with muscle aches and headaches, in addition to decreasing a fever.
A rash is the hallmark symptom of this infection. Rashes are usually quite painful and can cause a burning sensation. Shingles ointment can be applied directly to the area for instant relief but will not reduce fevers. Since this particular rash is usually the leading cause for concern, many individuals primarily focus on cream or other topicals.
The varicella-zoster virus produces fluid-filled blisters in the shape of a band. This is usually located somewhere on the torso but can affect the legs, arms, and face. A rash appears approximately two to three days after the body has been affected. This usually begins soon after a fever or muscle aches.
Rashes are not usually considered dangerous unless they spread to the face. A rash that covers one or both eyes can cause serious health issues. Blindness and additional infections are likely if it is not treated by a medical professional.
How Is The Varicella Zoster Virus Spread?
A few different factors can cause this infection. If an adult caught chickenpox as a child, the virus stays dormant in their body. When it is later reactivated, it can cause this type of painful rash and infection.
This infection can be spread from person to person, but it is not airborne. Airborne viruses are highly contagious and can be spread simply by breathing the same air as someone infected. These viruses can include the flu, COVID-19, and certain bacterial diseases. The varicella-zoster rash is not directly contagious.
If an individual has direct contact with the fluid inside of a blister, they may contract the virus. This is one reason why it is so essential to keep rashes covered by a cloth or loose clothing. Without access to the rash, fluid from the blisters is unable to infect others.
The risk for spreading this infection is low. Individuals who never experience a rash are unable to pass this infection to another person. Since there is a varicella-zoster vaccine, this also minimizes the likelihood of spreading infection.
What Ointment Is Best For Shingles
When understanding what ointment is best for shingles, there are several factors to consider. Natural ointments without multiple chemicals often work well for any skin type. Ointments that do not dry out the skin with alcohol are also recommended.
Rashes that are well-maintained and hydrated are less likely to cause complications. By choosing a topical that can be directly applied, many people find an instant decrease in pain.
Vaccines prevent most cases of the varicella-zoster virus from occurring in childhood and adulthood. Although this is the first recommendation for those who want to avoid the infection, the virus still can occur. If the virus has already caused a reaction, over-the-counter treatments are available in several locations.