Picture of Shingles
Shingles: This painful viral infection is caused by herpes zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox. After infection with chickenpox, the virus “hides” in the nervous system in a latent or dormant state. Exposure to chickenpox or other stressors may cause a reactivation of the virus, resulting in a shingles outbreak. People over the age of 50 are most likely to suffer from shingles.
Shingles causes uncomfortable and painful symptoms due to inflammation of the sensory nerves, the nerves responsible for the perception of pain, touch, and temperature. The characteristic shingles rash appears as a band-like strip of red, oozing blisters. The rash typically wraps in a strip around the body and usually occurs on one side of the body. Shingles is contagious if an infected person has close contact with others who have not yet had chickenpox. Nerve pain due to shingles can sometimes persist for weeks to years after the rash heals. This painful, post viral condition is known as post-herpetic neuralgia.
Text Reference: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "About Shingles (Herpes Zoster)."