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A childhood itch causes pain later in life

Most of us remember their childhood experience with “chicken pox” a condition caused by infection with the varicella-zoster virus.  Mine took place over Christmas when I was 5, so photos of that Christmas are marked a spotted appearance from the rash, and the pink calamine lotion used to suppress the itching.

This childhood infection can come back to haunt us, approximately 30% of the adult population develop shingles, also called herpes zoster, a reactivation of the original chicken pox virus.  After initial infection with varicella-zoster virus, the immune system will cause the virus to remain dormant within the spinal cords dorsal root ganglion.

Since shingles is more common in the elderly population, chronic disease, aging and stress are some of the causes of an outbreak. This secondary infection, shingles presents as a itchy, pustular rash, typically occurring on the side body where the virus had remained dormant.   Unlike the chicken pox which is spread by respiratory droplets, shingles is spread through direct contact (only to susceptible individuals).

Naturopathic Medicine as prevention based medicine, is well suited to support an individual from developing shingles, by bolstering the immune system, support stress and chronic disease. 

There are natural options for treatment of shingles, or the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia (residual pain, numbness and burning), which occurs in 10-18% of individuals with a shingles outbreak.

A few of the treatment options available for treatment include use of intervenous vitamin C which has be demonstrated in research to decrease pain while boosting overall fatigue associated with the infection.  Acupuncture has also been found to decrease pain when compared to treatment standard drug therapy.  Vitamin B12 has also been used orally and by injection to aid in the healing.  

For more information on how to protect yourself, or a loved one from shingles contact me.

References

Martin Schencking, Claudia Vollbracht, Gabriele Weiss, Jennifer Lebert, Andreas Biller, Birgitt Goyvaerts, Karin Kraft. Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(4): CR215-224

Ursini T1, Tontodonati M, Manzoli L, Polilli E, Rebuzzi C, Congedo G, Di Profio S, Toro PM, Consorte A, Placido G, Laganà S, D’Amario C, Granchelli C, Parruti G, Pippa L; Acupuncture for the treatment of severe acute pain in herpes zoster: results of a nested, open-label, randomized trial in the VZV Pain Study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Jun 5;11

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