Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that can cause a range of symptoms, including a painful rash, blisters, and itching. The most common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is a type of chronic pain that can last for months or even years after the rash has healed.
PHN occurs when the nerves that were affected by the shingles virus continue to send pain signals to the brain, even though the rash is no longer present. This can lead to a burning, stabbing, or shooting pain that can be debilitating and impact a person’s quality of life.
Other complications of shingles may include bacterial skin infections, scarring, vision loss or other eye problems if the rash occurs near the eye, hearing or balance problems, and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or other organs.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have shingles, especially if you are over 50 or have a weakened immune system, as prompt treatment with antiviral medication can help reduce the risk of complications and the severity of symptoms.