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Shingles

Also called: Herpes zoster, Postherpetic neuralgia

Summary

Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It may not cause problems for many years. As you get older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Although it is most common in people over age 50, anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk.

You can't catch shingles from someone who has it. However, if you have a shingles rash, you can pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox. This would usually be a child, who could get chickenpox instead of shingles. The virus spreads through direct contact with the rash, and cannot spread through the air.

Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to severe. Rashes or blisters appear anywhere from one to 14 days later. If shingles appears on your face, it may affect your vision or hearing. The pain of shingles may last for weeks, months, or even years after the blisters have healed.

There is no cure for shingles. Early treatment with medicines that fight the virus may help. These medicines may also help prevent lingering pain.

There are vaccines to prevent shingles or lessen its effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get the Shingrix vaccine. You need two doses of the vaccine, given 2 to 6 months apart. Another vaccine, Zostavax, may be used in certain cases.

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Images

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (American Academy of Dermatology)
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Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

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  • (American Academy of Dermatology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health
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Children

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Teenagers

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Seniors

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) Also in

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