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Pain relief in the treatment of shingles: a guide for nurses

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Figure one: Skin rash seen with early presentation Figure one: Skin rash seen with early presentation of shingles

Shingleshingles are caused by the Herpes Zoster virus and early identification and prompt treatment with antiviral drugs reduces symptoms and leads to reduced risk of ongoing nerve pain.1 Infection causes a painful blistering rash and it is more common in older people. It affects 3.5 per 1000 person-years among 50–54 year olds to 7.1 per 1000 person-years among 75–79 year olds.2 In England 50,000 people over the age of 70 develop shingles every year.3 Around 40% of people infected experience ongoing nerve pain lasting three months or longer and one person in a thousand over the age of 70 dies as a result of infection.4 People who are at greatest risk of infection can now be immunised. Immunisation can reduce the risks of shingles by 75%.5 Shingles is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus, the chickenpox virus. It is correctly known as herpes zoster.


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