In most cases, healthy people tend to recover from shingles without developing complications. However, some people do go on to experience shingles complications. These complications can include problems like infections, scarring, and herpes zoster oticus. While anyone with shingles can develop complications, certain individuals are at a higher risk than others. For example, those who have a suppressed immune system are more likely to develop complications.
An Overview of Shingles Complications
For the majority of healthy individuals, shingles (herpes zoster) runs its course without the development of any complications. In most cases, the lesions heal, the shingles pain subsides within three to five weeks, and most people are left with no scars from their blisters.
While this is the normal course for most people with symptoms of shingles, it is possible for shingles complications to occur. Some possible complications include:
- Herpes zoster opthalmicus
- Herpes zoster oticus
- Postherpetic neuralgia
- Sacral zoster
- Other shingles complications.
Shingle Complications: Herpes Zoster OpthalmicusHerpes zoster opthalmicus is a complication of shingles that occurs when one of the nerves that goes into the eye (known as the ophthalmic nerve) is involved with the shingles infection. Up to 70 percent of people with this complication will develop some sort of temporary or permanent eye problem. The most common problem is known as anterior uveitis, which is inflammation that normally includes the iris (the colored part of the eye). This may cause symptoms that include redness of the eye, pain, or blurred vision.
In some cases, herpes zoster opthalmicus may lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
Shingles Complications: Herpes Zoster OticusHerpes zoster oticus, also called Ramsay Hunt syndrome or Ramsay Hunt syndrome type II, is a common complication of shingles. It is caused by the spread of the varicella-zoster virus to facial nerves. It is characterized by intense ear pain, a rash around the ear, mouth, face, neck, and scalp, and paralysis of facial nerves. It is also possible to have a loss of taste on the front portion of the tongue, hearing loss, or a spinning sensation (vertigo).