Shingles

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Quick GuideShingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

Shingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. Only those who have previously had chickenpox and those who have received the varicella vaccine can develop shingles later in life. Initial exposure to the varicella zoster virus, which typically occurs in children or adolescents, leads to the development of chickenpox. After the episode of chickenpox has resolved, the virus remains in a dormant state in certain nerve cells of the body located in the spine. While in this inactive state, you will not experience any symptoms from the varicella zoster virus. However, in certain individuals and for reasons that are not completely clear, the varicella zoster virus may reactivate years later and travel along nerve paths to cause shingles. The location and pattern of the ensuing rash reflects the region of the affected nerves.

Though similar in name, herpes zoster is not the same disease as herpes simplex (which is caused by the herpes simplex virus causing cold sores, fever blisters, or genital herpes). Continue Reading

Reviewed on 5/18/2016
References
REFERENCES:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Shingles (Herpes Zoster)." <http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/>. May 1, 2014.

United States. NIHSeniorHealth. "Shingles." July 2015. <http://nihseniorhealth.gov/shingles/aboutshingles/01.html>.

IMAGES:

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12."Herpes zoster chest" by Fisle

13.Steve Pomberg

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15.Steve Pomberg

16.iStock

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