Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus. Anyone who has had the chickenpox may later have shingles as this virus can lie dormant in the body for years before entering the nervous system. Varicella-zoster is also a part of a group of viruses that cause herpes (though it is not the same virus) and is characterized as a painful rash, most commonly in the form of blisters wrapping from the middle of the back and around the side towards the front. Alternatively, it could spread down one of your arms or legs in a nerve root pattern.

Other Symptoms:

  • Burning, numbness, and tingling
  • Itching
  • Fevers and chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches

Risk Factors:

  • Having chickenpox as a child
  • Age – chances increase for people over the age of 50
  • Weakened immune systems such as in people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, or on chronic steroids

Finding Relief at Home:

  • Cold baths or cool cloths on the rash
  • Calamine lotion or other anti-itch cream
  • Oral antihistamines like Benadryl
  • Pain relievers like Motrin or Advil