Herpes Zoster, also called shingles, is a skin rash caused by Varicella Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. It is a painful skin rash, usually with vesicles and occurs in a cluster or band localized to a small area of the body.
How People Get Shingles
Shingles occur when the virus that causes chickenpox becomes reactivated. After one recovers from chickenpox, the causative virus becomes dormant in the nerve roots. In some people, it remains dormant forever. While in others, the virus gets reactivated if the person becomes stressed or has a weaker immune system.
In few cases, certain immunosuppressive drugs may also cause activation of the virus. The initial symptoms one may feel are itching, tingling or pain in the area. That’s where the rash will appear after a few days.
Shingles Signs and Symptoms
The rash will turn into a cluster of vesicles. Then these vesicles break into small sores which will dry and form crusts. These crusts will fall off by themselves in two to three weeks. Other symptoms that you may experience include abdominal pain, fever and chills, general ill feeling, genital sores, headache, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes.
During the shingles attack, especially when skin blisters are present, the virus can be transmitted to people who have never had a Varicella virus. In general, these are mainly children.
Who are Vulnerable to Varicella Infections
Varicella infections can be harmful to newborn babies. Therefore people with active shingles need to avoid contact with newborn babies. In elderly, shingles can occur when they come into contact with children who have chickenpox infection.