In medicine there are different types of diseases, and even infectious diseases have different subtypes. The majority of micro-organisms invade certain tissues and cause problems for a limited time until the immune system, antibiotics or a combination of both take care of the infection. However, other viruses and bacteria are skilled enough to hide from the reach of the immune system and become dormant, waiting for the right moment to reactivate and attack once again. That’s the case of bacteria like Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and viruses like varicella-zoster virus.
What we usually recognize as shingles is known in medical terms as herpes zoster, and it is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains latent in the spinal ganglia for many years, and sometimes decades. In the majority of cases, the signs and symptoms of shingles are bothersome but not dangerous. However, in other cases shingles can become a real threat, with an important extent in the patient’s health. In this article, we are going to review the most common signs and symptoms as well as a glimpse on the most common complications associated with the disease.
1High sensitivity to the touch
In shingles (herpes-zoster), the first manifestation, even before skin problems start appearing is a pre-eruptive phase consisting of a very high sensitivity to the touch. This is called pre-herpetic neuralgia, and it is extended throughout an entire area in the skin called dermatome. These are collection of sensory nerves that share the same pathway in their way to the brain, and when they are taken by the virus it is felt as high sensitivity in all of the area.
Sometimes, it is not only one dermatome but two or more of them are taken, and in the majority of cases the problem is located in one half of the body and respects the other, which is a helpful sign we can take in consideration. By noting that skin hypersensitivity stops right after passing the midline, that is a tell-tale sign of shingles.
Detecting shingles in this early stage would make it easier to recover from the others. Thus, if you have these annoying sensations in your skin and it follows the pattern we have described, talk to your doctor right away. You don’t always need to have skin manifestations to be correctly diagnosed.