Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. While shingles can be very uncomfortable and painful, most people recover without complications. However, in some cases, shingles can be serious.
Complications of shingles can include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN): This is a condition where the pain from the shingles rash continues even after the rash has healed. PHN can last for months or even years and can be debilitating.
- Vision problems: If shingles affects the eyes, it can cause vision problems or even blindness.
- Neurological problems: Shingles can affect the nerves and cause neurological problems such as facial paralysis, hearing loss, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
- Skin infections: The blisters from the shingles rash can become infected, which can be serious if left untreated.
- Compromised immune system: Shingles can be more serious for people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or organ transplant recipients.
In general, it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have shingles or if you have any symptoms that concern you. Early treatment can help reduce the severity and duration of the illness and prevent complications.