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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is shingles?
Shingles is a skin rash caused by re-activation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the virus responsible for causing chickenpox.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
In the early stage of shingles, the symptoms may include pain, severe itching, sensitivity to touch and numbness in one area of the body. In addition, you may experience headache, sensitivity to light (photophobia), fever, chills, lack of appetite, …
Who gets shingles?
Shingles can develop in anyone who has been infected with chickenpox in the past. Risk factors for shingles generally include anything that weakens the body's immune system, including, but not limited to: being over 50 years of age; young age (first year of life); …
What causes shingles?
Shingles is caused by re-activation of the varicella zoster virus, the virus responsible for causing chickenpox. The virus can remain dormant in nerve roots for long periods of time, sometimes decades, before erupting again in people who have been infected with it.
How is shingles diagnosed?
Your doctor will usually identify shingles by the distinct pattern of the rash. If necessary, your doctor may choose to confirm the diagnosis with lab tests (usually done on a sample of cells taken from the rash itself).
How is shingles treated?
Shingles is generally treated with anti-viral medication. Additionally, supportive treatment, to relieve pain and prevent irritation, will be recommended.
Is shingles contagious?
When you have shingles, it is possible to transmit the varicella zoster virus to others who have not been infected with the virus previously. If this occurs, the person who is infected will develop symptoms of chickenpox rather than shingles.
About this article
Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 19 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.1 out of 5
Votes: 906 (Click smiley face below left to rate)