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One of the most common communicable diseases that can be encountered in hospital admissions is Shingles or called as herpes zoster. Herpes zoster is a contagious type of disease that involves the peripheral nervous system as caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus. This disease is characterized with blisters which as very painful. The immunosuppressed or had previous exposure with chicken pox can experience this.

The virus’ action can travel to spinal and cranial sensory ganglia and the posterior gray matter of the spinal cord. Upon contact with the blisters, the person who did not experience chicken pox will develop chicken pox instead of shingles.

People can be diagnosed with shingles after careful physical assessment. Laboratory studies may also reveal an increase in white blood cells as the body tries to combat this viral infection.

Clinical manifestations

  • Neurologic pain described as painful, tingling or burning sensation
  • Body weakness
  • Burning sensation of the blister sites
  • Febrile episodes
  • Skin vesicles along the peripheral sensory nerves, the blisters actually outline the nerves
  • Classic location: along the trunk, thorax or face
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Joint pains
  • Chills

Patient profile

  • Previous exposure with chicken pox
  • Commonly appeared on age group of older than 60 years old
  • Those whose immune system is weakened due to underlying illness or medications

Medical Management

  • Admission to an isolation room is advised.
  • Pharmacologic intervention involves the following: analgesics, corticosteroids, acetic acid or white petrolatum and antiviral agents such as Acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir.
  • Cold baths and lotions must be started.
  • Pregnant women should not go near the person with shingles as it may be infectious.
  • Give antihistamines in order to prevent itching.

Nursing Management

  • Monitor the vital signs.
  • Observe proper measures in containing the infectious agent.
  • Observe proper personal protective gear as well as routine hand washing before and after the procedures.
  • Encourage complete compliance with the medications being ordered.
  • Teach the patient as well as the folks about proper disposal of materials which are in contact with the patient.
  • Listen to the ideas and perception of the patient about being isolated, the prognosis as well as recovery from the present status.
  • Teach the patient about the possibility of having post herpetic neuralgia or pain on the sites of shingles which may be present for months or even years. Proper medications can be given in order to lessen the pain.
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Writing is an integral part of my nursing career. It is my way to reach more people and empower them with the roles of nurses. Currently, I'm working as a nurse in a private hospital specifically in the Emergency Room. Emergency nursing is my forte.