Internal shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus usually lies inactive in the body, specifically within the nerve tissue that is close to the brain and the spinal cord after patients have chickenpox. After several years, the virus can reactivate as shingles and can show severe internal symptoms when left untreated.
Internal Shingles Symptoms
- During the onset of shingles, patients will experience flu-like symptoms which include fever and chills that can last from 3 to 4 days.
- After experiencing low to high grade fever, patients will feel shooting and severe pain, burning sensations, discomfort and itching on the area where nerve damage has occurred. Common areas that usually experience such symptoms include a portion of the skin, face, and trunk.
- Blistering rashes will appear from the area of the affected nerve and will spread throughout the affected area. Patients can also experience severe pain in the nerves during this time.
- In addition to severe nerve pain, patients will also experience headaches, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms without the rise in body temperature.
- Blistering rashes will turn into dry scabs and will fade away within 3 to 4 weeks.
- Patients will also experience postherpetic neuralgia which is considered a common complication of shingles and is characterized by severe pain that lasts for months or years after the blisters have healed. Other symptoms that can be experienced include sensitivity to touch and itching that goes with numbness.
- Hutchinson’s Sign. The symptoms appear when the condition attacks the nerves in the eyes. Patients will feel temporary blindness or changes in vision, swelling of the eyes, and blistering rashes on the end of the nose.
- Ramsey Hunt Sign. This will appear when the condition targets the facial nerves. Patients will experience severe pain in the ear, hearing loss, paralysis and pain in the facial area, and dizziness.
- Shingles can also affect the lungs, brain, and the central nervous system. When this happens, patients will have pneumonia, breathing difficulties, encephalitis or inflammation of the brain, mild confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Internal Shingles Treatment
Although the condition can heal on its own, it is best to seek prompt medical treatment to manage symptoms and prevent serious complications.
- Administration of antiviral drugs. Oral antiviral drugs are given and usually are very effective when given within 72 hours after the first symptom appears.
- Pain relievers are often prescribed to ease pain. Examples include numbing agents, narcotics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.
- Patients are advised to rest and do relaxation techniques like listening to soothing music.
- Pain and itching can be relieved by taking cool baths or using cold and wet compresses on the blistering rashes.
- Over the counter anti-itch medications and oral antihistamines can also help manage itching and other symptoms.