Shingles without rash is not a common illness, and is also known as Zoster Sine Herpete (ZSH). This condition is not easy to diagnose since there is no rash present. All forms of shingles are caused by the Chicken Pox virus, also known as the Varicella Zoster Virus. For anyone who has suffered from Chicken Pox, the virus can be found in a dormant state in the nerve cells; medical professionals do not understand why the virus reactivates in some people and not others, or why it even reactivates at all.
You need to know that all forms of shingles are not contagious, so you cannot give anyone the disease. However, if you are suffering from shingles and then get into direct contact with someone who has not been vaccinated for chicken pox, or has never had chicken pox, you may be able to pass the chicken pox virus to them. Basically, when you are suffering from any form of shingles, including ZSH, you should avoid contact with people and pregnant women until your symptoms are gone.
Symptoms of Shingles Without the Rash
The symptoms associated with shingles without rash, or ZSH, are similar to those of shingles, only that there is no rash. You find the symptoms appearing on one side of the body, and the areas most affected are the face, neck and in the eyes. You can also find the symptoms occurring in internal organs. The symptoms shown are as follows:
- A sensation of burning and pain.
- Sensations of itchiness that can sometimes be very powerful.
- Sometimes the affected areas will be numb.
- The patient may also get severe headaches.
- The patient will suffer from bouts of fatigue.
- The affected areas will generally have a dull ache throughout.
- The patient will also get bolts of pain that seem to radiate from the spinal area.
- The affected area will be sensitive to touch.
As mentioned earlier, shingles without a rash is brought about by the Varicella Zoster virus, which is the same one that causes chicken pox. When you are treated for chicken pox, the virus enters the nervous system and remains dormant for the rest of your life, or simply reactivates and cause shingles without a rash. In shingles, the virus will travel to the skin and produce rashes, but in some cases, no rash is seen.
There is a theory that as you grow older, you immune system becomes weaker. This is the reason why the disease is seen in older people, and those who have weak immune symptoms such as those suffering from HIV and also newborn babies.
The Varicella Zoster virus belongs to the group of herpes viruses; these are the ones that cause genital herpes and cold sores. This is the reason why all forms of shingles are referred to as herpes zoster. Although these viruses are grouped as one, the exact virus that causes chicken pox and shingles without a rash is not the same one that causes cold sores and herpes.
Another confusing issue is the fact that shingles without a rash will occur in some people and not others. Shingles without a rash will occur in people whose immune system is suppressed, such as those who have the following conditions:
- People who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation as a treatment for cancer.
- People with the HIV virus.
- People who have full-blown AIDS.
- People who have been subjected to high doses of corticoid steroids as treatment for another condition.
- People who undergo high levels of stress in their daily lives.
- A patient who has undergone an organ transplant.
When you feel like you have shingles without a rash, you should quickly look for medical treatment. You will feel the tingling, and burning sensations of the virus moving through the nerves and travelling to the skin. You will find that the sensation will only occur on one side of the body; this is the real symptom that you should pay attention to. If you know you suffered from chicken pox in the past, you should divulge this information to the doctor so he can check you for shingles without a rash.
Shingles without a rash does not manifest with any rashes or blisters, so the doctor will have to take some blood samples to check for the presence of the virus. When the doctor confirms that you have shingles without a rash, then he will be able to see what kind of treatment you require. Most patients will be given antiviral medication such as Acyclovir or Valacyclovir; there are also some home remedies that he will prescribe. A stay in the hospital is necessary for those who suffer from a severe form of shingles without a rash.