Shingles also known as herpes zoster is a viral disease affecting the nerve pathway. The disease results from a virus named varicella zoster, the same virus which is responsible for causing chickenpox. It is extremely painful when shingles occurs on scalp.
The fluid filled blisters which develop on scalp cause itching and scalp skin becomes extremely sensitive to touch. It makes hair grooming difficult as slight combing can be painful ordeal. The worst scene is that the rash can leave bald patches on scalp often permanently if not treated carefully.
What Causes Shingles On Scalp?
Shingle virus belongs to the same family which causes chickenpox.It is called vericella zoster virus. The disease can develop at any age but is most common after 50. Once you recover from chickenpox, the virus is never killed; it remains dormant in the nerve roots of spinal cord. When the circumstances become favorable, the virus gets reactivated.
They pass through the nerve path which innervates the skin surface causing acute nerve inflammation. Usually the sensory nerves are involved. Although, the areas affected are back, front of chest, thigh and face, occasionally eyes and scalp may get affected.
The exact reason why the virus gets reactivated is uncertain, but it is believed to occur when the immune system becomes weak.In certain conditions and situations can cause low immunity, for example when a person is under stress, or he develops serious disease (cancer), radioactive therapy, anemia etc. The immune system is also weak in old age.
Symptoms Of Shingles On Scalp
Nerves innervating the scalp skin are involved when shingles develop on scalp. The disease often begins with flu like symptoms such as chills, mild fever, and malaise. In the early stage the scalp is sensitive to touch. There may be mild to moderate headache. On about fourth or fifth day, sudden crop of small blisters appear on scalp.
These blisters are filled with transparent fluid. Blisters develop only on one side of scalp following the path of the inflamed nerve. The blisters begin to dry and scab about fifth day after they first appear. There is disabling pain on scalp with irresistible itching. Patient is unable to comb his hair due to pain. Blisters may burst due to scratching and this may lead to scar formation.
Herpes zoster on scalp can produce bald patches due to scars. The hair follicles are destroyed completely and there may be permanent loss of hair over the affected area. Rarely, patient may develop inflammation in the brain (encephalitis) demonstrating neurological signs and symptoms such as weakness in muscles, severe headache, lethargy, confusion, fever, irritability etc.
How To Treat Shingles On Scalp Naturally?
Herpes on scalp requires to be treated carefully to get relief from pain and itching. Following hair care regimen during this period may prevent permanent scarring and damage to hair growth.
- Antiviral medicine acyclovir will suppress the inflammation faster, shorten the course of disease, and reduce the chances of post herpetic neuralgia.
- Bed rest helps to recover from the disease quickly.
- Apply cold compresses over your head as it reduces itching and pain.
- Apply calamine lotion to soothe itching.
- Take cold shower instead of hot water bath. Wash your hair carefully and avoid using scented soaps and shampoos. Do not scrub your scalp. Wash your hair gently with your fingertips.
- Comb your hair carefully. Use soft bristle brush to prevent scarring and breaking of the blisters.
- To stimulate immune system, eat fruits and vegetables. Drink orange juice mixed with honey. It is considered beneficial to alleviate symptoms of herpes zoster.