Diagnosis of Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). It is one of the most common complications of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) infection. There are two types of shingles: primary and secondary. Primary shingles occurs when the VZV enters the nerve cells of your body and begins causing inflammation. Secondary shingles results from damage to the nerves that cause pain, numbness or tingling sensations. The virus remains in the body and can become active again at any time.

Shingles is a very itchy rash that develops on the skin. It can appear anywhere on your body, but most often appears on your chest or your abdomen. It also can appear on your face or on the sides of your face. The rash is usually preceded by pain, burning or tingling in the area where it appears. The rash begins as a red patch of blisters filled with fluid.

As it develops, the fluid in the blisters turns into a crusty scab. The rash can be painful, especially when it develops in your eye. Most people who develop shingles do so between the ages of 30 and 50. By the age of 80, at least half of people have experienced shingles.

The only way to prevent shingles is to avoid contact with someone who has it. However, once you have had shingles, the virus stays in your body and can become active again later, causing shingles to return. This is called a recurrent episode of shingles.

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