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What are the side effects of shingles?

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A shingles outbreak can have long-term effects on the eye, the brain and the ability to move the face, according to the New York Times Health Guide. During an active outbreak of shingles, effects range from itching and pain to infected sores and such syndromes as Ramsay Hunt and Guillain-Barre.

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Postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, is pain lasting over a month after the activation of shingles. Because the initial outbreak often injures nerves, the healing process is sometimes anomalous and generates an excessive response from the brain, leading to the sensation of intense pain. PHN affects about 25 percent of shingles patients older than 60 but is quite rare for patients younger than 50, reports the New York Times.

If the patient doesn't keep the blisters clean, bacterial infection is possible, as is scarring, states the New York Times. Guillain-Barre syndrome also results from some instances of nerve inflammation, causing weakness in the limbs and occasional paralysis that takes from a few weeks to several months to resolve. Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause temporary hearing loss, ringing in the ears and severe ear pain, as well as vomiting, dizziness and nausea. Facial paralysis related to Ramsay Hunt is sometimes permanent. Swelling of the brain sometimes leads to encephalitis, an inflammatory condition that is life-threatening in some cases. Eye infections can cost the patient his vision if the rash spreads to the face.

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