Shingles can be very painful and itchy. It is not very dangerous to healthy people, and it usually ends without major problems. The rash and pain last 3 to 5 weeks. Sometimes, serious problems like temporary, partial facial paralysis , ear damage, or encephalitis may occur. Persons with shingles on the upper half of the face need immediate medical attention: the virus may cause serious damage to the eyes . Most people who have shingles have only one attack of the disease in their lifetime. However, people with AIDS , cancer or weak immune systems may have multiple attacks.
Patients with herpes zoster ophthalmicus are treated with oral acyclovir (800 mg, five times daily) for seven to 10 days. Studies report alleviation of pain with oral acyclovir during the initial stages of the disease, especially if the drug is taken within the first three days of symptoms, and it may have a favorable effect on postherpetic neuralgia. 21 – 23 [Reference 22—Evidence level A, randomized controlled tiral (RCT). Reference 23—Evidence level A, RCT] Additionally, acyclovir administered within 72 hours of onset has been found to speed resolution of skin lesions, reduce viral shedding, and decrease the incidence of dendritic and stromal keratitis as well as anterior uveitis. 24 , 25