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. Typically, this occurs along your chest, abdomen, back, or face, but
it may also affect your neck, limbs, or lower back. The area can be very
painful, itchy, and tender. After one to two weeks, the blisters heal and form
scabs, although the pain often continues.
The deep pain that follows after the infection has run its course is known
as postherpetic neuralgia. It can continue for months or even years, especially
in older people. The incidence of shingles and of postherpetic neuralgia rises
with increasing age. More than 50% of cases occur in people over 60. Shingles
usually occurs only once, although it has been known to recur in some people.
Read more and learn about a vaccine for shingles.