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.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Gender difference in the incidence of shingles (DM Fleming, KW Cross, WA Cobb… – Epidemiology & …, 2004 – cambridge.org)
- Shingles: a review of diagnosis and management. (R Morgan, D King – Hospital medicine (London, England: 1998), 1998 – europepmc.org)
- Secular trends in the epidemiology of shingles in Alberta (ML Russell, DP Schopflocher, L Svenson… – Epidemiology & …, 2007 – cambridge.org)
- Close association of herpes zoster reactivation and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) diagnosis: case-control study of patients with SLE or noninflammatory … (JE Pope, A Krizova, JM Ouimet, JL Goodwin… – The Journal of …, 2004 – jrheum.org)
- Hospitalization with varicella and shingles before and after introduction of childhood varicella vaccination in Germany (A Siedler, M Dettmann – Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics, 2014 – Taylor & Francis)
- Incidence and risk of hospitalisation due to shingles and chickenpox in patients with rheumatic diseases treated with TNF antagonists (I García-Doval, B Pérez-Zafrilla, MÁ Descalzo… – Annals of the …, 2010 – ard.bmj.com)