Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Shingles (herpes zoster) results from a reactivation of the virus that also causes chickenpox. With shingles, the first thing you may notice is a tingling sensation or pain on one side of your body or face. Painful skin blisters then erupt on only one side of your face or body along the distribution of nerves on the skin.
The cluster of blisters that form with shingles fill with fluid, pop, then start to ooze. Eventually the affected areas crust over and heal like the rash shown here.
Shingles - Cause
Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella - zoster virus, a type of herpes virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your nerve roots and remains inactive until, in some people, it flares up again.
Shingles - Prevention
Anyone who has had chickenpox may get shingles later in life. However, the FDA recently approved a vaccine, known as Zostavax, that may help prevent shingles. Ask your doctor about the availability of this vaccine.
Shingles - Exams and Tests
Shingles is usually diagnosed by the appearance of the bandlike rash that occurs on one side of your body. If a diagnosis of shingles is not clear, your health professional may order lab tests, most commonly herpes tests, on cells taken from a blister.
Shingles - Other Treatment
Postherpetic neuralgia, the most common complication of shingles, is difficult to treat. Your health professional may recommend other treatments, along with medications, to control the pain of postherpetic neuralgia.
Shingles - Home Treatment
You may reduce the duration and pain of shingles by: Taking good care of skin sores, such as not scratching blisters and keeping your skin clean. Using medications as prescribed to treat shingles or postherpetic neuralgia or using nonprescription pain med
Shingles - What Increases Your Risk
Risks for developing shingles include: Having had chickenpox. You must have had chickenpox to get shingles. Being older than 50. Having a weakened immune system due to another disease, such as diabetes or HIV infection Experiencing stress or trauma.
Shingles - Symptoms
When the virus that causes chickenpox reactivates, it causes shingles. Early symptoms of shingles include headache, sensitivity to light, and flu - like symptoms without a fever.
Shingles - Treatment Overview
There is no cure for shingles, but treatment may shorten the length of illness and prevent complications. Treatment options include: Antiviral medications, sometimes in combination with corticosteroids, to reduce the pain and duration of shingles.