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Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an individual has chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. The virus may not cause problems for many years. As the individual gets older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Unlike chickenpox, you can't catch shingles from someone who has the disease.

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. Blisters subsequently form and last from 1 to 14 days. If shingles appears on the face, it may affect 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 medication that attack the virus may help. These medications may also help to prevent lingering pain. A vaccine may prevent shingles or lessen its effects. The vaccine is prescribed for people 60 or over.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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