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Shingles( Herpes zoster):

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and can be spread to people who have not had chickenpox.
Shingles is a skin rash caused by a nerve and skin inflammation from the same virus that previously caused chickenpox. This virus is called the varicella zoster virus (VZV) and belongs to the herpes family of viruses. After an individual has chickenpox, this virus lives dormant in the nervous system and is never fully cleared from the body. Under certain circumstances, such as emotional stress, immune deficiency (from AIDS or chemotherapy), or with cancer, the virus reactivates and causes shingles. In most cases of shingles, however, a cause for the reactivation of the virus is never found. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk for the development of shingles, although it occurs most commonly in people over the age of 60. It has been estimated that up to 1,000,000 cases of shingles occur each year in the U.S.

Causes of Shingles:

A number of factors increase your risk of reactivating the dormant varicella zoster virus and developing shingles including:
  • Being an older adult with a history of having had chickenpox who has not gotten the shingles vaccination
  • Having a condition that weakens the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, or an organ transplant. Having a weakened or impaired immune system also increases the risk for having recurring episodes of shingles.
  • Recent illness
  • Stress

Treatment of Shingles:

There is no cure for shingles, but treatment may shorten the length of illness and prevent complications. Treatment options include:
  • Antiviral medicines to reduce the pain and duration of shingles.
  • Pain medicines, antidepressants, and topical creams to relieve long-term pain.


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