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Herpes Zoster Virus Hides in Spinal Column, Shingles Symptoms and Treatment

John was a Navy hospital corpsman. He worked the general sick bay, managed a carrier O.R., and treated heat rash, eczema, and dyshidrosis.

Helpes Zoster on the chest

Helpes Zoster on the chest

Symptom and Treatment Overview

Herpes Zoster is the medical name for shingles. The virus that causes chicken pox (varicela virus) stays in the system residing near the spine. This herpes virus is also sometimes referred to as "varicela zoster". Usually the chest, abdomen and back, and face are the areas involved. More rarely the shoulder and scalp can be involved. It is believed that this virus can become activated by triggers. If the immune system is weakened, a number of stressors could be the trigger of an outbreak. Stress, illness, and age can be contributing factors in an outbreak.

The duration of the rash and blisters is usually a few weeks. Pain and discomfort can last for months after an outbreak. Post herpetic neuralgia can last for months after the rash has gone. From Wikipedia, post herpetic neuralgia is thought to be nerve damage caused by herpes zoster. The damage causes nerves in the affected dermatomic area (a dermatome is an area of skin that is mainly supplied by a single spinal nerve. There are eight cervical nerves, twelve thoracic nerves, five lumbar nerves and five sacral nerves. Each of these nerves relays sensation (including pain) from a particular region of skin to the brain) of the skin to send abnormal electrical signals to the brain. These signals may convey excruciating pain, and may persist or recur for months, years or until death.

Symptoms of Shingles:

Tingling and pain occur at the site of a flare. If these symptoms affect the face, the patient should be checked by a physician immediately, as the virus can move to the eye and brain with severe consequences. Associated symptoms include: headache, fatigue, and fever. The pain that occurs at the site is telling. It is a pain with tingling, signs that nerves are being affected. In the literature, shingles is described as a burning or stabbing pain in most cases. I had a friend once who experienced this stabbing pain when he had an outbreak of shingles. The rash extended from the center of his back to the right all the way around to the right side of his chest. The outbreaks occur in one area, not several discontinuous spots. Along with the pain, this specificity of area is a good symptom for diagnosis. The pain is the first symptom and can be confused with lung pain or pain of the heart. Even air motion from a fan can cause pain in the rash and blistered area.

Treatment of Shingles:

Since varicela is a virus, antiviral drugs such as acyclovir can be used to shorten the duration of a flare. This means that soon after the symptoms for shingles appear, (redness and blisters, pain and numbness, fatigue, headache, and fever) the drug can be administered. I have read that the last symptoms listed can be described as "flu like". All antivirals must be prescribed by a physician. Very severe side effects can occur.

As is the case with many skin conditions, if blisters open up they are susceptible to infection. In this case antibiotics are given. Antibiotics can only be prescribed by a physician. Anesthetic topical drugs are often used for this painful condition. Over-the-counter pain relief medications and prescription analgesics are prescribed to deal with the pain. Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxin are just some of the pain relief medications recommended. In addition to being the first symptom, the pain seems the most difficult one for the patient to deal with. Itching has been reported as another symptom but from the literature it seems to occur less frequently.

The pain comes from the virus traveling along nerves which begin at the spine. Nerves radiate from the spine (where the virus lays dormant) like ribs with these pathways running out sideways from the spine on both sides. The blisters of a shingles flare up seem to run along the areas where these nerves flow. The varicela virus, when activated, seems to move out over these areas when the body is stressed, resulting in pain, then blisters and rash.

For alternative treatments, google herbal medicine, acupuncture, psychological treatments and homeopathy for shingles.

Self care includes: rest, fluids, analgesics, baking soda baths to decrease itching (one cup to a normal bath), or oatmeal baths. Oatmeal lotion is recommended in place of soaps (which can dry the skin).

You cannot contract shingles from a person suffering an outbreak. However, a person who has never had chickenpox and is not vaccinated could contract it from contact with shingles. Most people are affected in the age range of 50 -70. There is a vaccine out that older people can take called Zostavax. This shingles vaccine is recommended for people 60 and older, particularly those suffering from debilitating disease and those having had shingles previously. This vaccine has been shown to reduce the incidence of shingles in this age group by one half. The duration of the shingles was also shortened. A physician must be consulted before this vaccine is given. Anyone showing shingles symptoms should seek a physician's care.

A case of shingles that demonstrates the typical skin distribution

A case of shingles that demonstrates the typical skin distribution

Herpes Zoster Located on Neck

From Federal Bureau of Prisons Clinical Practice Guideline December 2011

for Varicella Case
(when case could have been exposed to varicella)
From 21 to 10 days before onset of rash in case

for Varicella Case
(when case is able to transmit infection)
From 2 days before rash, until all lesions crusted (4-7 days after onset)

for Varicella Contacts
(when susceptible contacts are at risk for developing varicella)
From 10 days after contact with the varicella case began, until 21 days after contact ended

Recent Developments

In 1995, a vaccine for shingles was introduced. Various studies show that that vaccine provided up to 99% effectiveness. This vaccine was attenuated - meaning that a virus was treated in such a way that it would not cause infection but would create a good immune reaction to cause immunity to shingles.

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A relatively new contribution to controlling herpes zoster infections is an attenuated and higher potency vaccine called Zostavax. This vaccine was approved for older people 60 years of age and above in 2006, and was tolerated well by that population. Follow up studies showed a 61% effectiveness in preventing the disease.

2011 showed a lowering in age of the CDC recommendation for the use of Zostavax. The recommendation was that people 50-59 should get the immunization. The result was 70% efficacy.

Photos and YouTube

  • Shingles -A Serious, Painful, Viral Disease
    Shingles is a viral infection causing a painful rash that looks like a band of blisters which can appear many places on your body. It is caused by herpes zoster which is the same virus that causes chicken...

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 John R Wilsdon


conradofontanilla from Philippines on December 21, 2012:

I find a lively exchange of ideas here. A germ can be identified by means of the Koch's postulate. In fact, Dr. Jonas Salk and his team who developed the Salk polio vaccine did not see a polio virus. They employed Koch's postulates. As we know a virus is either a RNA or DNA and one reconstructs the other inside a live host, or commandeers the RNA or DNA of the live host. I read that herpes zoster is caused by herpesvirus varicellazoster that also causes chicken pox. The electron microscope, not the optical microscope, enables us to reconstruct the structure of herpes zoster virus. I read one article in Internet that aloe vera gel treats the blister.

True Cures from Payette Idaho on August 07, 2011:

NO you have been a patient author and commenter. Thank you. I know everything I share contradicts "modern" traditional medicine. To suggest herpes is easily cured, boom, right out of the gate, huge contradiction to science and medicine. It only stands to reason the method and the cure will also contradict science and medicine.

I LOVE effective medicine. I love the fact that Lamisil Tablets cure herpes every single time. I think everyone who has herpes should get their doctors to prescribe Lamisil. Like you said, I love a good trauma surgeon. However I despise overpriced ineffective medicine which makes up 98% of all medicine and that includes ALL Alternative medicine as well.

Our comments have been very informative. I give you and your hub thumbs up because most people with herpes hubs are against any information that conflicts with popular beliefs even though the thought of herpes being incurable isn't very popular at all. Thank you for letting me visit with you. I really do wish you the best.


John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on August 07, 2011:

True Cures:

Your comments and mine may have helped people to form conclusions that were helpful.

I am not sure I will every understand your logic? Science knows a lot about virus. There is no way I can comment anymore because I don't know anymore. If anything, I would hope people do not reject traditional medicine based on the same kind of reasoning. At least we know that your curatives will not work on trauma! Whew!

You have been a patient reader and commenter. Thank you.

True Cures from Payette Idaho on August 07, 2011:

John, I think you are very noble for allowing this discussion to go on here. It will eventually draw more people to the hub but the clicks on the ad links will go down. I wish you could have your cake and eat it too. It's just one small example of how truth gets in the way of profit. I wanted to address your comment below.

"I don't think you give enough credit to established medical treatment."

I use an open question for my members and readers asking them to give me an example of how the "established medical industry" heals so we all can give them credit where credit is due. Now, I no of a few ways outside of trauma so trauma doesn't count. Maybe you have an example of how the medical industry heals something, because most people cannot come up with an example. There are very few examples by the way. Statistically speaking medicine does not heal.

Also with that being said, the people with herpes are not giving any credit to the established medical treatment at all, not an ounce otherwise your hub and mine would have no attraction. Herpes is not like diabetes or asthma where people tend to adjust to the "established medical treatment". People with herpes want ONE thing and that is to be cured.

Lucky for a few who find underground information, information that is underground because it is not allowed above ground, a few are cured of herpes. The people cured of herpes will tell you that when they where in the "bright place" you mentioned where herpes is incurable, it is actually a corrupt and crooked place where people suffer for the sake of profit. Cures are not allowed in this "bright" corrupt "place" of medicine.

Read more because you are mistaken, there are no test that actually detect any viruses which means there is no evidence that a person actually has a virus when they are diagnosed with any form of herpes. If you would like to quote some information from the site links you shared here that make you "believe" people see an actual virus I will be happy to show you the "loop hole" or the angle they use to make you believe they see an actual virus when in reality they do not. Now that you are aware of the "loop hole" I doubt you will be too confident in your findings. There simply is no solid evidence that there has ever been such a thing as a herpes virus.

The medical establishment will never approve curing herpes with strong fungicides or curing herpes at all so curing herpes will always be done on the sly and only for the most diligent searchers of truth or the most lucky. In the "bright place" you speak of people are going to be shivering with fear and disgust knowing they have to tell their partners for rest of their lives that they have herpes. Some will stop having sex altogether, some will have sex without telling their partners and some will simply take their own lives in that "bright place" you speak of.

Because the medical industry paints a hopeless picture of herpes, herpes forums and blogs thrive and are extremely profitable. Their primary goal is to lift people's spirit so they will try to cope with living with herpes because if they choose not to cope the industry of herpes loses.

There are no "bright places" for people with herpes until they are cured. The is the brightest place on earth for now. It will never be profitable but it is so bright it cannot be disputed by even the greatest medical or scientific minds. It can only be ignored. Without support from the medical industry cures will never ever be mainstream, they will always be underground.

John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on August 06, 2011:

Been awhile! THanks for the comment. For reference, this is in response to your last comment.

"It is said that DNA doesn't lie but that doesn't mean a thing when doctors and scientist cannot isolate the supposed virus thought to cause what is known as herpes so how in the world could they connect any DNA to a virus they cannot isolate or even see?"

For information about how Herpes Zoster can be diagnosed, see

"However, sometimes scrapings may be taken from a blister and analysed under a microscope, or you may need a blood test to identify the virus and confirm the diagnosis."

From high school biology one learns that virus can be clearly seen in an electron microscope. One can SEE virus through an electron microscope. Material from blisters can be seen in the electron microscope. I think the blood test probably demonstrates the existence of antibody to the Herpes Zoster virus.- refer to

Herpes virus can be grown on tissue in the lab.

There is positive evidence of success in vaccination for Herpes Zoster. This means that there was an immune response in humans to a biological part of the virus, including protein from the virus or its DNA. The point being that the virus reproduced is used to create a vaccination that works. Besides being able to see the virus, evidence of its existence is demonstrated by the vaccine! Vaccine against Herpes Zoster is required in Japan; it prevents chicken pox, and therefore shingles.

For me to say your anti-fungals don't work would be rediculous. I don't know if they do or not. However, I don't think you give enough credit to established medical treatment.

As for contradicting wealthy people, I do it all the time, and so do others. When we say we have a free country, we are talking about a concept. Freedom is not pure. We can say that ours is one of the freer societies in the world. I am not free to shout fire in a theater if there is none. Absolute freedom is only a construct of the mind, much like mathematics. We use the concepts to find solutions to problems in the real world. Nobody has ever measured 1 inch exactly. In much the same way, nobody has ever been free.

I suggest you stop healing underground. It's a bright place out here.

True Cures from Payette Idaho on June 01, 2011:


People may be pleasantly surprised to find out that their doctor can prescribe a drug that cures herpes but because it is not a free country they may have to work to fund that their doctor can prescribe the drug.

I don't want to be argumentative, but it really isn't a free country. We have the freedom to go after wealth but we do not have the freedom to contradict those with wealth.

It is said that DNA doesn't lie but that doesn't mean a thing when doctors and scientist cannot isolate the supposed virus thought to cause what is known as herpes so how in the world could they connect any DNA to a virus they cannot isolate or even see?

Have you ever heard of witches mixing up their potions? Yep, witchcraft and pharmaceuticals are the same thing and equally as effective meaning neither is effective.

The medical industry/community is not going to isolate any pathogen associated with herpes they are going to allow people to assume they have a virus and people will suffer from their assumption.

David Flowers

John Wilsdon on May 17, 2011:

Thank you for your comment, True Cures.

As I understand it, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can be performed. A PCR test can be done on cells or fluid from a sore or on blood or on other fluid, such as spinal fluid. PCR finds the genetic material (DNA) of the HSV virus.

Though I am not an expert, there is a saying that DNA doesn't lie. I think until such time as the whole of the medical community is convinced that herpes infections are caused by fungus, it would be prudent for people to see a medical doctor for conventional herpes viral treatment.

Of course, it's a free country, and people can try to cure herpes infection with anti-fungals or witchcraft if desired.

True Cures from Payette Idaho on May 17, 2011:

You put a lot of work into this hub but do you have any solid evidence that herpes is a virus and particularly a virus that hides in the spine?

I've researched herpes and have experience in curing herpes and I have found no such evidence that herpes is a virus at all.

I'm well aware that is what we are told but we are told this by an industry that is virtually useless at treating herpes and completely useless at curing herpes so how can their information be considered reliable at all?

Curing herpes comes from curing fungus which is why medicine and science have no luck. Of course I have seen no evidence that the medical industry has any interest in curing what is known as herpes.

With the current science fiction medical explanation we are convinced of some pretty absurd opinions and beliefs. I think if you look deep you will quickly learn that everything medically published about herpes is pure opinion and belief.

Matter of fact you will find that herpes is only BELIEVED to be a virus.

I challenge you to answer this question I posted to yahoo answers where it was banned once but I forced them to leave it alone the second time I posted it. It is a question that will get anyone banned from any medical herpes site, a question the "experts" will not and cannot answer. I hope you can have some fun with it and get your new hub going here. Here is the question.



If you ask if anyone has ever seen a live living herpes virus in the flesh, they say yes, when you see a herpes lesion or even a cold sore. That's quite the assumption to assume that a sore that looks like what we know as herpes is being caused by a virus.

No one seems to know who or if anyone actually sees a herpes virus under a microscope. We know doctors do not see an actual virus they send the blood samples or culture samples to a lab and the lab techs do not see an actual herpes virus either they see "indications" of a virus like a change in the color of a dye or some other chemical indication. So who actually sees a "herpe"?

So no one we know of is seeing a herpes virus in the flesh, they only see what they assume is caused by a herpes virus. The question is, how does anyone know if an outbreak is viral or fungus other than assumption?

Will people dare suggest it is the IgG antibody that proves an outbreak is caused by the notorious herpe? We have five antibodies and humans are susceptible to thousands of pathogens that can require an antibody response, are we to "believe" or "assume" that the IgG antibody associated with what is known as herpes cannot be a defense to any other of the thousands of pathogens we come in contact with? That would mean the IgM, IgE, IgA and IgD have to handle all the other known pathogens themselves.

I ask…how do we know the supposed herpes outbreak is caused by a virus and not fungus if no one is seeing any actual viruses or testing the outbreak for fungus? Why can't fungus cause the same antibody response as a virus? After all it is very easy to cure a fungus so it would behoove people to know the difference.

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