Shingles is a painful infection of the nerves and skin.

  • Causes

    Shingles is caused by the
    varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes
    Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox. After causing the first chickenpox infection, the virus is not totally eliminated from the body. Some of the remaining virus settles in nerve roots near the spinal cord. When reactivated, the virus travels along nerve paths to the skin where it causes pain and a rash.

    Shingles Blisters
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  • Definition

    Shingles is a painful infection of the nerves and skin.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor can diagnose the rash by its appearance. Fluids may be drawn from the blisters for testing, but this is not done very often.

  • Prevention

    herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for people aged 60 years and older. The vaccine decreases the likelihood of getting shingles and reduces the severity of PHN if shingles does occur.

    If you do have shingles, take these steps to prevent giving chickenpox to others:

    • Keep all blisters covered with a bandage until they are dry and crusted over.
    • If you are a healthcare worker, do not return to work until the blisters are dry and crusted over.

    • Avoid contact with people who are at risk of getting severe varicella, such as:

      • Pregnant women
      • Premature infants
      • People who have a compromised immune system

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of shingles include:

    • Age: 50 or older
    • Gender: Female

    • Compromised immune system due to
    • Chronic health conditions that may alter your immune system
    • Radiation therapy

    Shingles can occur in those with no known risk factor.

    Shingles is not usually transmitted from one person to another. But, a person who has never had chickenpox and never received the

    is likely to get chickenpox if contact occurs with a person who has shingles.
    Covering shingles sores with a bandage reduces the risk of transmitting shingles to others.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Rash:

      • Red and has a slightly raised band or patch often with multiple small fluid-filled blisters that dry out and crust within several days
      • Develops on one side of the body, but typically does not cross the midline
      • Affects mostly the torso and face
    • Affected eyes in severe cases, which can threaten vision
    • Sensitivity and pain on the skin at the site of the rash; pain may be severe
    • Tingling or itchiness on the skin, which may start a few days before the rash
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Tiredness

    The rash usually disappears within three weeks. In some cases, though, post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) develops. With PHN, the pain continues for months or even years after the rash has healed. PHN can be severe and difficult to treat.

  • Treatment

    Shingles cannot be cured. Treatment focuses on:

    • Easing symptoms
    • Speeding recovery
    • Preventing PHN