It is the eve of Halloween and my arm looks like one of those fake makeup patches you can buy to put on your face, resulting in a most disturbing and grotesque deformity. Thank goodness it IS on my arm and not on my face! (And not the most "flattering" side view of my forearm either!) But if it WERE on my face, I might just consider going Trick Or Treating this year...Moohahaha!
I remain at home "recovering" from *shingles*...some of you have asked, "What are shingles and what causes this?" Well, being the good thief and plagiarizer I am, I have stolen for you a fairly succinct, in layman's terms, article that 'splains the disorder. And, I'm also too fatigued and feeling too ill to come up with anything on my own...which is probably a BETTER explanation at this point. LOL
One thing I have found as I looked for this article were pictures of various shingle outbreaks...and I must say, not unlike MS, no two shingle outbreaks look alike! As you can see by the photo of my arm (taken tonight), my particular "brand" of shingles does NOT look like chicken pox (as the article describes)...but then again, very LITTLE about me is classic textbook...including my version of Multiple Sclerosis.
So without further ado, I give you the completely stolen-I-may-go-to-jail article:
A Painful Rash – Is It Shingles?
Shingles (Herpes zoster) is a skin rash that is often extremely painful caused by the Varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
In people who have had chickenpox, the virus is never fully cleared from the body; instead, it remains dormant in the nerve tissues. When physical or emotional stresses to the body weaken the immune system, the virus re-activates and spreads along the nerve fibers to the particular area of skin supplied by the involved nerve (called a dermatome).
The virus responsible for chickenpox and shingles is a member of the Herpesviruses, although it is not the same as the Herpes simplex 1 and 2 viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes, respectively.
Pain, itching, tingling, or burning of the skin often precede the rash in an outbreak of shingles. The blisters that develop resemble the lesions of chickenpox but are concentrated in the area supplied by the involved nerve.
Rarely, more than one nerve is involved. Blisters may occur along the entire path of the nerve or only in certain areas supplied by the nerve. As with the blisters of chickenpox, the blisters in shingles eventually burst and begin to crust over and heal. The entire outbreak can last for three to four weeks.
Before the blisters are crusted over, the virus can be spread to anyone who does not have immunity to chickenpox through vaccination or previous infection.
The pain of shingles can be so severe, even before the rash develops, that it mimics dangerous conditions such as appendicitis, kidney stones, or a heart attack, depending upon the location of the nerve that is affected. The appearance of the characteristic rash is usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis of shingles. Antiviral drugs are sometimes prescribed to reduce the duration of the rash, but their effectiveness is limited. Steroids or pain medications are sometimes given to help control the pain of shingles.
Most people with intact immune systems recover completely from shingles, although recurrences are possible. Since immune function declines with age, older persons are most vulnerable to shingles. About half of shingles cases occur in people over age 60. People with weakened immune systems due to cancers, chemotherapy, or HIV infection are also at increased risk for the development of shingles.