Herpes zoster, the medical term for
shingles, is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus that causes chicken
pox. What causes a reactivation of the virus is unknown, but it often develops
when the immune system is suppressed.
An attack typically starts with a
localized tingling and burning sensation of the skin. A few days later blisters
similar to those of chicken pox develop. These blisters follow the path of a
nerve. Serious complications can develop if the virus infects an eye or migrates
to the brain.
Some doctors believe that good
nutrition may help prevent postherpetic neuralgia, a long-term complication
marked by nerve pain even after symptoms of shingles disappear.
Beneficial nutrients. Vitamin E, an
antioxidant found in nuts, seeds, wheat germ, and vegetable oils, and the
bioflavonoids found in fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C may also
help prevent the inflammation associated with postherpetic neuralgia. Vitamin C
supports your body's immune system, as do zinc-rich foods like seafood, meat,
poultry, milk, yogurt, beans, nuts, and whole grains. If neuralgia does develop,
however, the pain may be eased with applications of an ointment that contains