Shingles that do not have a rash are called zoster sine herpete (ZSH). These type of shingles are tough for your doctor to diagnose because the typical rash brought on by shingles is not on the skin. Having chickenpox is the precursor for shingles. The medical name for chickenpox is varicella zoster virus (VZV). Having chickenpox in the past does not mean that the virus is out of your body forever. In fact, it lies dormant in nerve cells.
It is not known what causes this virus to flare up again later in life for some people and not for others. Experts have studied this extensively and still have not uncovered a definitive answer.
After a person has had chickenpox, two outcomes are possible. First, the virus never activates again and they will not have any further complications or second, the virus reactivates and causes internal shingles.
When a person’s immune system has been weakened, this increases the likelihood of internal shingles occurring. Some reasons for a compromised immune system are:
The shingles virus is not contagious, but if a person has shingles and they come into contact with a person that has not had chickenpox or did not get vaccinated against it, that person can contract chickenpox. This is only caused by direct contact with the shingles rash on a person. Shingles without a rash is internal, and should not be able to be passed on to others.
Evidence of internal shingles is revealed by an itchy, painful, blistery rash. But internal shingles has different symptoms to differentiate it:
The pain felt from internal shingles will either be mild or severe. It can cause the following symptoms based on which internal organs are affected:
Internal shingles is not a common ailment. Because of this, it is difficult to diagnose by only your symptoms. The types of tests needed to lead to an internal shingles diagnosis are:
Keep in mind that while these tests are used, many times they are inconclusive.
There are numerous treatment options to reduce the signs and symptoms. There is also a vaccination on the market that lessens the overall rates of outbreak and the symptoms that come with it. The list below mentions the most effective treatment options:
Internal shingles takes roughly 3 to 5 weeks to fully go away. In the majority of cases, it is cured without major issues. People of all age groups (children, teens, adults, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems) can show internal shingles symptoms that are severe. At the first sign of any of these potentially life-threatening symptoms, you should contact your doctor to evaluate your treatment options and move toward recovery.
The only way to get shingles is if you have had chickenpox previously. Your risk for internal shingles increases when:
Internal shingles is a preventable disease. The greatest method of prevention is either getting the shingles vaccine or the herpes zoster vaccine, known as Zostavax. This vaccine is recommended once you turn 60. In addition to vaccination, there are other ways to abate the onset of internal shingles:
The Center for Disease Control states that 1 in 3 people in the United States will have shingles in their life. Internal shingles is a rare disease, but if it affects certain organ systems, it can threaten your life.