Herpes Zoster:Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Reviewed by Dr Hasan Feroz, MD

Herpes zoster is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is a reactivation of the virus that lies dormant in our body for long time. Herpes zoster is caused by the virus which caused chickenpox. It is a painful condition but not life threatening. It starts with simple rash and gradually it converts into blisters with a painful sensation.


The symptoms of herpes zoster are burning sensations, pain and redness in blisters, liquid accumulation in the blisters and oozing. Some patients may face fever, fatigue and weakness. In general, Pain and redness are the primary symptoms of herpes. If you touch the affected part you may feel extreme pain and sensation in the affected area.

The symptoms of herpes ophthalmicus are like burning and throbbing pain in the eyes and nearby areas. It may affects the nerves of the eyes and causes swelling of the cornea. It also causes blurring of the vision as it causes inflammation in the cornea.


When a varicella-zoster virus enters your body, first it causes chicken pox and lies dormant in the body for years/upto many decades. After causing chickenpox, the virus rests near the spinal cord and move towards brain where it remains dormant.

The exact reason for the reactivation of the virus is unknown and what are the causes of erupting herpes zoster are still a matter of research. In some studies, it is found that due to the weakened immune system and old age may cause the herpes zoster occurrence as when the patient is getting old the immune system of the body is getting weak and then the virus reactivates and attacks.

Herpes may affect many parts of the body. If herpes affects the eyes, it may be devastating as if treatment is not started duly it may cause damage to the eyes. Herpes of eyes is known as herpes ophthalmicus which affects eyes and nearby skin around the eyes like eyelids, forehead and tip of the nose.


The treatment of herpes zoster is depended the severity of the disease. To get relief from pain and uneasiness you can take ibuprofen which helps in relieving pain and inflammation.

To relieve from the herpes you need to take aciclovir and valaciclovir. It comes in cream and oral form. For fast recovery, it is advised to use both cream and oral tablets. Usually, herpes is recovered with medicines from 3-5 days.

Is Herpes is Contagious

Generally, herpes shingles are not contagious if you directly come in contact with oozing blisters of shingles then there may be a chance of infection. Herpes zoster which is not caused by chickenpox or patient who have no history of previous chickenpox is contagious known as varicella zoster virus.

Risk Factors of Shingles

A person who is at the risk of herpes zoster if he has a weakened immune system, or always live in extreme stress, or have completed the age of 50 years and take the medicines like steroids daily due to some disease are at the greater risk of herpes zoster.

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