Shingles in Children

The varicella zoster virus is what is responsible for Shingles in children who have had chicken pox in the past. This means that the same virus is responsible for the two health conditions. Children who have had shingles in the past are likely to have it again, which means that after a chicken pox outbreak, the Varicella zoster virus only ‘sleeps’ under the nerve cells, waiting to be triggered later by unknown causes.


What Causes Shingles in Children?


According to experts, the zoster’s rate in the children of 10 years and below is less than 0.75, unlike the 3 cases in every 1,000 adults. In children, the condition usually develops if the immune system of the child is very weak. With a weak immune system, the likely triggers of shingles are immuno-suppressive diseases like malignancy, or during an organ transplant. It is also possible when the child has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).


When to Start Treating Shingles in Children


The chicken pox virus can be spread if your child has shingles. Therefore, to easily treat the condition and prevent the spread to other family members, treatment should be provided if:


-          the child says that the rash is either very painful or itchy

-          the rash is on the face or in the eyes of the child

-          you don’t know whether or not the rash is shingles

-          the rash fails to clear up within 10 to 14 days

-          the child is suffering from a chronic illness, or taking immunosuppressive drugs

-          the child has fever, is not well or the rash looks infected


How to Treat Shingles in Children


An antiviral therapy works well in treating shingles in children, and if given intravenously; acyclovir is the optimal initial therapy that can be given to children. The therapy should be for 7 days or for 2 days new lesions have ceased forming. When the child starts being administered with acyclovir within 72 hours after the rash appears, the new lesions will no longer be forming, while visceral dissemination will be prevented. With a good antiviral treatment, acute pain will be reduced, crusting will be accelerated, and there will be healing within 2 to 3 weeks. To prevent complications like anterior uveitis or stromal keratitis, oral acyclovir should be used.


The use post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is not usually recommended for children with poor immune system because those children are not really at high risk of any severe infection. However, PEP may be ideal for good-immune system children in the hospital, as they are likely to share items or facilities with those who are immune-compromised.


Shingles in children is still common today, and it is necessary for the child with the condition to remain at home instead of continuing to go to school. Doing this makes the rash crusts to disappear through proper treatment, while also preventing complications. It is also necessary for the child not to scratch or touch the shingles’ rash.

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