Shingles: Signs And Symptoms

What Is Shingles? If you’ve ever had the chickenpox as a child and believe you got over it, you’re only partially correct. While the itchy, blistery skin rash indicative of childhood chickenpox may be ancient history as far as you’re concerned, the virus that caused the infection did not disappear. Anyone who has had chickenpox still has the virus. It simply hides in the cells of one’s spinal nerves in a latent form and should not be a problem so long as that person’s immune system remains healthy. The problem arises, however, when one’s immune system becomes weakened or compromised. That is when the virus, known in medical terminology as varicella-zoster virus or VZV, may be reactivated. Awakened from its dormant state, VZV moves along the nerve fibers that travel to the skin, often causing severe pain to the nervous system and resulting in a distinctive rash. This viral infection is called shingles, also known as herpes zoster. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in three people can expect to acquire shingles in the course of their lifetime.

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