Shingles without rash are also known as “zoster sine herpete.” These words come from the ancient Greek, and they mean “zoster without herpes.” It refers to the condition of shingles without the appearance of the typical rashes that characterize this disease.
In this article, you can find detailed information about this disorder including its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and natural remedies.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles are a type of skin rash that produces pain. It is also called herpes zoster. It is caused by the virus varicella-zoster, commonly known as the chickenpox virus.
The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox when it invades a body for the first time. Even after the affected person has recovered from chickenpox, the virus can remain in the nerve tissues around the spinal cord and brain, but in a dormant state. The chances of the virus reactivating increase with aging.
In this case, the virus causes a condition known as shingles, which tends to result in characteristic rashes on the skin.
The shingle rashes appear in the form of strips, bands or small clusters in a zone of the face or body (especially the torso).
Most of the people that have been affected by shingles once will not be affected again, but its recurrence is not impossible. It tends to reappear in those who were having a weak immune system, especially in the elderly. Its appearance can be triggered by factors such as medicines, injuries or stress.
Shingles are not a contagious condition. The contact with a person that has shingles can only lead to spread of the virus in the body of someone that has not had chickenpox before or has not been vaccinated against it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
The symptoms of shingles can be divided into different stages as follows:
- Light headaches and sensitivity to light. Feeling of flu.
- The sensation of itching, tingling or pain in specific areas. The rashes will appear in these regions in the upcoming days.
- The appearance of rashes that turn into clusters of blisters. The blisters will get filled with fluid and crust over.
- Healing of the blisters, which will take from two to four weeks. The process might leave scars.
On the other hand, sometimes shingles occur without rashes, leading to a condition known as “zoster sine herpete,” or “shingles without the rash.” This situation will be described in detail in this article.
- Other symptoms of shingles are the weakness, dizziness, and changes in the vision, especially if a rash appears near an eye. If the shingle enters the eye, it can damage the vision permanently.
SHINGLES WITHOUT RASH:
Now that we have learned in brief about shingles, we know that its distinctive feature is the appearance of rashes in different areas of the body like face, neck, chest, and stomach. However, we should know that this symptom is not always present in someone that has shingles.
The condition of shingles without rash is scientifically known as “zoster sine herpete” (ZSH). All the symptoms of shingles are present as usual, except for the blisters that typically characterize it.
In some cases, the rashes may appear after three to four weeks from the reactivation of the virus and the start and development of the infection.
The absence of these marks can make the diagnosis difficult. It can be confirmed only after a fluid test that indicates the presence of the varicella-zoster virus in the body. A late diagnosis and treatment lead to dangerous complications associated with shingles.
Shingles without rash tend to occur in people that have a weak immune system or are older than 50 years.
SYMPTOMS OF SHINGLES WITHOUT RASH:
An outbreak of shingles is characterized by the appearance of painful rashes over the skin of the face, neck, chest, and abdomen. However, this symptom is not common to all the cases of shingles. Sometimes shingles take place without rashes, and this might make its identification difficult.
Nonetheless, there are other symptoms of shingles that can help in its diagnosis. They can affect the internal organs, neck, face, and eyes. Sometimes they are localized on one side of the body.
The symptoms of shingles can be divided into three main parts:
i. SENSATION OF FLU:
The development of symptoms that are characteristic of having the flu is widespread in the first stage of shingles. The signs are not same as that of a cold or fever. They can last from seven to ten days. They may include:
- Body ache
- Mild fever or chills
- Poor appetite
ii. SEVERE PAIN:
Extreme pain is a common element in all the cases of shingles. It is usually very severe and throbbing due to the impact of the disease on the nervous system. When the rashes of the skin are absent, the pain tends to be localized deep into the muscles. Sometimes it affects more one side of the body.
The skin may suffer from itching, prickling, numbness, burning sensation, increased tenderness and sensitivity.
iii. MOVEMENT PROBLEMS:
The shingle virus is present in nerve roots. If it affects motor nerves, it can cause difficulty in movement, especially on one side of the body or face. There might be a weakness in the limbs or abdomen as well as blurred vision in one eye. If the diaphragm is affected, there might be breathing problems too.
Complications from shingles without rash are more probable because of the absence of the blisters that characterize the disease. This leads to a late diagnosis and treatment, and the symptoms of shingles might have worsened by then.
Some of the complications are very severe, and they include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia: When the shingle virus affects the nerve fibers, their functions can be altered, and their sensitivity to pain is exaggerated. This can continue even after the shingles has healed.
- Increased susceptibility to bacterial infections: This may be caused due to an improper or late treatment of shingles.
- Ocular infection and loss of vision: If the virus affects the area around the eyes, it can cause a severe infection that leads to damage or loss of vision.
- Damage to the nerve fibers: the damage caused by the virus on nerve fibers can trigger neurological problems such as facial paralysis, balance problems, brain inflammation, and defects in hearing.
CAUSES OF SHINGLE WITHOUT RASH & PEOPLE AT RISK:
Shingles are caused by the presence of the varicella-zoster virus, also known as the chickenpox virus. Once a person is healed from chickenpox, the virus remains in a dormant state in the body for years. It may resurface causing shingles.
The causes of the reactivation of the virus are not yet determined, but it is considered that people with weak immune systems and the elderly are more susceptible to shingles without rash than others.
Here are the factors that cause weakness of the immune system and hence vulnerability to shingles without rash:
- Chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other cancer treatments.
- AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
- Excess intake of corticosteroids and immunosuppressant drugs.
- Organ transplants.
- Old age (50 years and above)
- Extremely high-stress levels.
Shingles are not contracted by contact with an affected person, as it is not a contagious disease. However, the contact with a person affected by shingles may cause chickenpox in someone that has not had it before or isn’t vaccinated against it. The transmission occurs due to direct exposure to the open sores, which may occur even when the rashes are absent.
Chickenpox and shingles are especially dangerous for:
- Newborn babies
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- Immunologically weak people
- People that have just undergone surgery or trauma.
It is essential to avoid contact with these until the healing of shingles is complete.
DIAGNOSIS OF SHINGLES WITHOUT RASH:
The condition of shingles without rash is not a frequent one. The fact that its main characteristic is the absence of the distinctive shingle rashes makes it challenging to identify and diagnose.
If you suspect you have shingles symptoms, you should consult the doctor immediately. The sooner shingles are identified, the easier its treatment will be.
To confirm the presence of shingles without rash, the doctor may have to perform the following tests to determine the presence of VZV antibodies:
- Blood test
- Saliva test
- Cerebrospinal fluid test
The doctor may also check the medical history of the patient and ask about any recent operation or a situation of increased stress.
Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Shingles Without Rash
The conventional treatment for shingles without rash includes antiviral medicines and painkillers prescribed by the doctor. However, these are not the only methods to treat its symptoms.
Some natural remedies can help in alleviating the discomfort produced by this disorder.
1. HEALING BATHS
Maintaining a good hygiene and cleansing the lesions regularly reduces the risk of the infection spreading. It is recommended to take a refreshing bath or shower to soothe the itchiness and pain. Adding one to two cups of colloidal cornstarch or oatmeal into lukewarm water for bathing also heals the symptoms.Make sure the towels used for drying are washed.
2. WET COOL COMPRESS:
Similarly to cool baths, cold compresses also help in soothing the pain. They can be applied several times a day. The compresses should be soaked in cold water, but this should not be ice-cold.
3. BAKING SODA AND CORN STARCH PASTE:
A mixture made of two parts of cornstarch or baking soda and one part of water can help in reducing the itchiness produced by shingles. Keep the mixture on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse it off. This can be repeated a few times per day.
4. LOTIONS AND CREAMS:
Using lotions and creams of neutral scent can make your skin feel more comfortable. Ointments that have a natural ingredient in their composition are preferred. Lotions and creams applied after a bath can help in drying the blisters that might be there.
5. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS:
Changes in your diet can improve your immune system and make the spread of shingles more difficult. The immune system can be boosted by foods that are rich in mineral and vitamins A, C, E, B12. These include fruits, leafy vegetables, eggs, chicken, fish, dairy products, legumes, etc. It is essential to keep the intake of processed, refined, and sugar-rich foods at its minimum. These weaken the immune system.
Homeopathic medicines help and promote the body heal itself. They also calm the pain and itchiness produced from shingles without the rash. Some of the homeopathic medicines that are beneficial in case of shingles are cantharis, hypericum, mezereum, or graphite. However, it is better to consult a homeopathic expert before opting for any of these.
7. HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS:
Herbal extracts can have an overall soothing effect on the body. Relaxation of the body and the mind boosts a fast healing from practically all the conditions, including shingles. Herbal supplements that can help in case of shingles include melatonin, green tea, lemon balm, and oregano oil.
Since they trigger allergies in some people, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplement for the first time.
8. NATURAL TOPICAL REMEDIES:
To help in soothing the affected area of the skin from pain and itchiness, there are some topical applications of natural origin, like:
- Tea tree oil: One drop and a light rub on the affected area will be enough.
- Lemon balm: It has antivirals properties make it an excellent option to be used 3-4 times daily.
- Aloe Vera: The healing properties of this plant are quite popular for a reason. The application of its extracts will help in curing the symptoms of shingles on the skin.
- Capsaicin cream: creams that contain capsaicin will boost the relief from itchiness and pain.
Natural remedies will surely help in speeding up the healing of shingles without the rash. However, the cure follows the viral course. It can be aided by treatment methods, but not induced.
TREATMENT OF SHINGLES WITHOUT RASH:
When the tests for shingles indicate the presence of the virus in the body, the disease will be treated basically with antiviral medicines and painkillers.
Early treatment will be more effective against shingles and prevent its aggravation and further complications.
Treatment options include:
- Antiviral medicines such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, or Famciclovir to alleviate the symptoms to combat the effects of the VZV virus.
- Drugs to alleviate the extreme pain. These include anticonvulsants, numbing agents, and tricyclic antidepressants. Medications that contain narcotics like codeine may also be prescribed.
- Cold baths and wet compresses give relief from the pain and the itching sensation.
- In extreme cases of shingles, the patient may be required to stay at the hospital for treatment.
How Many Days Shingle Without Rash Last?
The duration of shingles without rash is similar to that of shingles. Their symptoms heal within two to six weeks, depending on their intensity.
In some cases, the pain remains for a longer time, which can produce a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
An early identification leads to early treatment, which helps in reducing the duration of the disorder.
Is Shingle Without Rash Contagious?
No, shingles without rash is not a contagious disease. The contact with a person that has shingles does not cause shingles.
However, there is the chance of contracting chicken pox if one has never had it before or is not vaccinated against it. This transmission occurs due to exposure to the open sores, which may occur even if the rashes are absent.
PREVENTION OF SHINGLES WITHOUT RASH:
Shingles without rash is an excruciating condition. An early treatment will ensure that the pain and the symptoms do not last for a long time. Hence, if you suspect that you have shingles even if the rashes do not appear, you should immediately consult the doctor to avoid the aggravation of the symptoms and the dangerous complications that can arise from this disease.
Sometimes the best option is to prevent shingles with the help of vaccination.
The Zoster vaccine (Zostavax) can reduce the risk of contracting shingles. In case shingles are contracted, the vaccine will still decrease the duration and the harshness of the symptoms and make the treatment more comfortable and shorter.
Although this vaccine is recommended for those above 50 years of age, it is not recommended for people that have a compromised immune system.
It is important to note that the vaccine is not a treatment option, but just a method of prevention.