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What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster or zona, is a painful rash caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in people who have previously had chickenpox. Approximately one third of people are affected with shingles at some point during their lives.

Symptoms

Initial symptoms include a severe burning or tingling of the skin, as well as itching or numbness, followed days or a week later by a strip of fluid-filled blisters, usually contained to one side of the body. Pain can persist in some cases, even after the rash is gone, in a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Types of treatment

Treatment generally consists of medications to manage pain and reduce the severity and duration of shingles.

Prevention

Having a chickenpox vaccine in childhood, or a shingles vaccine in adulthood, reduces the risk of developing shingles later in life.

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