Mon, Dec 29, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Breastfeeding mothers face shingles risk: expert

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Caring for and breastfeeding a baby can subject new parents to viral infections such as herpes zoster, a doctor said recently.

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles or as “snakeskin disease” (皮蛇) in Taiwanese, is a painful, blistering rash caused by varicella zoster, the virus that causes chicken pox.

Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital Division of Rheumatology director Cheng Sheng-han (鄭聖翰) said he recently treated a 33-year-old woman surnamed Hsu (許) with herpes zoster who had been left sleep-deprived from taking care of two toddlers, aged 11 months and three years old.

“Hsu first felt like something was stuck in her left eye, which was followed by piercing pain around her nose and eyelid. Three days later, she saw rashes and blisters around her left eye and on her forehead, with periodic pain like being poked with a needle or getting your hair pulled,” Cheng said.

Hsu’s symptoms abated after a week of treatment, Cheng added.

Cheng said anyone who has had chicken pox can get herpes zoster, because the varicella zoster virus can hide in the nervous system and attack when the person’s immune system is impaired.

It can occur in any season and on any part of the body, but people with rashes or blisters near their eyes could face a higher risk of visual impairment, Cheng said.

“New mothers are advised to get sufficient rest, especially those who have been infected with chicken pox in the past, to keep their immune system healthy... They also have the option of being vaccinated against herpes zoster,” Cheng said.

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