Skin [rate]

Shingles or herpes zoster is an infection that affects the nerves and the skin surrounding it. The viral infection is normally caused by varicella-zoster, a virus that is also responsible for causing chickenpox. The infection usually affects a particular body part but is restricted to one side and does not spread beyond the body’s midline. Shingles is characterized by painful rashes which develop into itchy blisters containing particles of the varicella-zoster virus. In most cases, shingles episodes lasts for around 2 to 4 week but can develop into post herpetic neuralgia, a nerve pain around the affected part of the skin.


What causes shingles?

Normally, the infection is caused by a reactivation of varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. It is therefore clear that shingles only affects people who’ve had chickenpox in the past since the virus normally lies inactive (dormant) inside the body only to reactivate later resulting in the infection. It is not clear why the reactivation occurs but researchers have attributed it to lowered immunity in the body. The low defense system against diseases can be as a result of emotional and physical stress, old age, recent bone marrow transplant, HIV and AIDs, chemotherapy and/or organ transplant.


Symptoms of shingles

Symptoms of shingles normally happen in stages. The patient may first experience a headache or just become sensitive to light. In addition, one may also feel as though they are having flu but this is not accompanied by a fever. As the viral infection develops further, one may feel tingling, itching or pain in some parts of the body and this is the small area or strip where the rash may appear in a few days. The rush then turns into clusters of sores full of fluid which then crusts over. In some cases, shingles may leave the skin scarred after healing. Some people may get some mild rashes while others do not get them at all.


How stress triggers shingles

As aforementioned, shingles can be triggered by emotional and physical stress since this lowers immunity in the body. When one is stressed or fatigued, the body’s immunity system becomes weak and cannot fight the virus effectively. As with many other opportunistic diseases, stressful emotional conditions such as depression or anxiety normally leave the body vulnerable to diseases like shingles. Physical stress is also a major factor contributing to weakened immunity which in many cases could leave one with the viral infection. Physical distress can be caused by things such as taking immunodepressant medication, sunburns, surgery, and other skin conditions. Stress normally results in plummeting of the protective vitamin C in the body leaving one vulnerable to varicella-zoster virus.


Using amino acid lysine to treat shingles

As with vitamin C, amino acid lysine can be used in the treatment of shingles as it helps relieve stress from the immune system. Lysine inhibits arginine, an amino acid that triggers the reactivation of varicella-zoster virus. Once it is inhibited, the multiplication of shingles virus is reduced thus facilitating quicker recovery or even preventing the reactivation altogether. A doctor might recommend amino acid lysine in case rashes occur thus preventing them from spreading. Taking the supplement helps because it interferes with the usability and/or availability of arginine amino acids to the shingle virus.