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Shingles (herpes zoster)

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Viral Illnesses

Shingles is a skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. As the virus reactivates, it causes pain and tingling and eventually a rash of short-lived blisters. The word shingles is come from the Latin word cingulum, meaning belt or girdle.

Shingles normally isn't a serious condition, but in some people the rash can cause an eye infection. Shingles can also lead to a complication called postherpetic neuralgia, which can cause the skin to remain painful and sensitive to touch for months or years. When identified early, shingles can be treated with prescription medications that help shorten the infection and reduce the risk of complications.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of shingles may include:

  • A feeling of pain, burning, tingling, itching, numbness or extreme sensitivity in a limited area of your body

  • A red rash with fluid-filled blisters that begins a few days after the pain and lasts two to three weeks before scabbing over and healing

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Chills

  • General feeling of unease and discomfort (malaise)

The shingles rash commonly occurs on one side of the trunk of your body. It often appears as a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of your back around one side of your chest to your breastbone, following the path of the nerve where the virus had been dormant. This telltale belt-like band probably gave the condition its name.

However, the rash can occur around one eye or on your neck or face. The shingles rash and blisters may resemble chickenpox, but the virus typically causes more pain and less itching the second time around. A case of shingles, although painful, usually heals entirely within about a month.


Shingles is a second eruption of the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Varicella-zoster is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses, which also includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes. Many of these viruses have the ability to lie hidden in your nervous system after an initial infection and remain dormant for years before causing another infection. Varicella-zoster is one of them.

Anyone who's had chickenpox can develop shingles. During an initial infection of chickenpox, your immune system may not destroy the entire virus. The remaining virus can enter your nervous system and lie hidden inside nerve cells close to the spinal cord for years, before re-emerging and traveling along nerve pathways to your skin, producing shingles. The reason for the repeat is unclear, but it seems to be linked to certain factors, such as age and situations in which the immune system is weakened.

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  • Pain Relief for Shingles PHN Pain Relief Information, Pain Management and Pain Relief Products for Pain Relief of Herpes Zoster, Post Therapeutic Neuralgia, Shingles, as painful conditions that affect the human body.


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