Shingles Overview

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash condition caused by varicella zoster (the virus that causes Chickenpox) involving a band or strip of skin.

Shingles occurs most frequently in seniors or those with compromised immune systems. The virus from Chickenpox, which has lain dormant (sleeping) along the nerve roots, gets activated and causes an individual to become symptomatic. Read more in this shingles patient education guide:

Symptoms occur gradually in stages and includes:

  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Local pain along one area
  • Persistent localized pain
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Itching or tingling of the skin
  • Raised skin rash
  • Skin blisters
  • Circular rash around torso

Risk Factors include:

  • History of Chickenpox
  • Chronic, debilitating illness
  • Stress
  • Immune suppression
    • Cancer
    • On chemotherapy
    • AIDS/HIV
    • Hodgkin’s disease
    • Systemic Lupus
    • Organ transplant recipient

Serious, long term effects of shingles can remain after the condition has resolved and involves:

  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Facial paralysis
  • Possible eye injury leading to acute or permanent blindness
  • Chronic pain of many months duration (post herpetic neuralgia)
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Scarring of skin


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