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Herpes zoster, also referred to as Shingles, causes pain and often causes a blistering skin rash.
Most cases of chickenpox occur in people who are younger than 15 years of age, but adults can also get chickenpox.
Herpes zoster causes pain, tingling, or itching and often causes a rash that can appear in a band, a strip, or a small area.
Symptoms for herpes zoster may also include headache, fever, chills, abdominal pain, joint pain, muscle weakness, hearing loss, and genital lesions. Pain associated with shingles usually lasts for 2 to 3 weeks, but can last for months, even years. After you have chickenpox, the virus that causes it remains inactive (dormant) in your body inside certain nerve cells. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir may be prescribed by your doctor. Herpes zoster is usually easily diagnosed by your health care provider by visual examination and acknowledging chickenpox history.
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Written requests for publication on the internet or other mass media (including printed publications) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Web developers may NOT copy the content or images from this website for use in developing commercial websites for other dentists or health care providers. DISCLAIMER: Statements made on this web site are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be substituted for the advice of a medical professional. When checked, Shutterstock's safe search screens restricted content and excludes it from your search results. The varicella zoster virus is a type of herpes simplex virus (HSV) but is not the same as the herpes simplex virus that causes genital herpes.
Herpes zoster is not a virus but a syndrome that arises with reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV) years or even decades after chickenpox. Herpes zoster is the same as shingles, an alternative and commonly used name for this condition. Herpes zoster is more likely to occur in a person with a depressed immune system and the elderly. Herpes zoster, commonly known as just zoster or shingles, is a condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Shingles is the syndrome where a painful skin rash marked by the presence of tiny blisters usually forms on a dermarcated area on the skin surface of the head or trunk.
Once the virus reactivates, it causes inflammation of the nerves and is therefore also known as acute posterior ganglionitis.
However, shingles often arises for no known reason even in a person without any of these contributing factors.
Images from CDC (1)The main symptoms of herpes zoster (shingles) is an itchy skin rash and pain which has been discussed in detail below. Herpes zoster mainly affects sensory nerves but motor nerves that control muscles may also be affected.


Pain that lasts for longer than a month, even after the rash clears, is most likely a complication of shingles known as post-herpetic neuralgia. All images have been sourced from the Dermatology Atlas (2) courtesy of Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D.
Tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants and corticosteroids along with anesthetics may be needed for post-herpetic neuralgia. Treatment should be commenced immediately once a diagnosis of shingles is made, preferably within the first few days of the onset of the rash. Zoster vaccine to prevent shingles and should be considered only for a person older than 60 years of age. Ask a Doctor Online Now!Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. If a patient does not have the herpes zoster rash , or if the diagnosis is If there is a rash , but it does not resemble a typical herpes zoster outbreak, Shingles is a painful rash caused by the Varicella zoster virus ( Herpes varicellae), which is the virus that causes chickenpox .
You can get chickenpox from touching the fluids from a chickenpox blister, or if someone with chickenpox coughs or sneezes near you.
If shingles affects a nerve in your face, a rash involving different parts of your face can cause drooping eyelid, loss of eye motion, difficulty moving some of the muscles in the face, or blindness. When the nerves have been damaged from shingles, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) can occur, and the resulting pain can be mild to very severe.
Shingles, Herpes Zoster, occurs after the virus becomes active again in these nerves years later. If an adult or child has direct contact with the fluid from the shingles rash blisters and has not had chickenpox as a child or has not had a chickenpox vaccine, they can develop chickenpox, rather than shingles. In 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Zostavax for the prevention of shingles. After the active phase of the infection resolves, the virus stays dormant at the spinal nerve root, specifically the dorsal root ganglion. It mainly affects the sensory nerves but can sometimes involve the motor nerves – those nerves that control muscles in the body. These symptoms usually settle after 10 to 15 days but can take up to one month to resolve completely.
This gives rise to symptoms such as paralysis of the diaphragm, bladder and bowel problems, cranial nerve palsies and muscle weakness.
A dermatome is an area of the skin which is innervated by nerves from a single spinal root. However, if the infection occurs in a vaccinated person it is usually less severe and shorter in duration. Shingles occurs in people 18 Dec 2009 Shingles ( herpes zoster ) is a painful, blistering skin rash due to the varicella -zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. There is a vaccine that can prevent chickenpox in up to 90% of people who receive the vaccine. Then red patches may appear, followed by small blisters in a band, a strip, or a small area. As people get older, they are more likely to develop PHN, and the pain is more likely to be severe.


Herpes zoster may develop in any age group, but you are more likely to develop the condition if you are older than 50 years of age or have a weak immune system. Zostavax is a more concentrated formulation of the Varivax vaccine, used against chickenpox. Shingles can affect any age group but is more commonly seen in the elderly and those with depressed immune defenses. Although the peripheral nerves to the trunk is commonly affected, the virus may cause inflammation of any part of the nervous system, even the brain (encephalitis), meninges (meningitis) or both (meningoencephalitis). The rash usually involves a narrow area from the spine around to the front of the belly area or chest.
Antihistamines, soothing baths, wet compresses, and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion can reduce itching. The varicella zoster virus causes the common childhood infection known as chickenpox which resolves after a few weeks. The virus targets certain nerves with symptoms such as the rash and pain being isolated to those areas of the skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. The greatest incidence of zoster in the non-HIV-infected population occurs between ages 50 and 80.
So, you can't catch shingles from someone, but someone with shingles can spread chickenpox to another person who hasn't had chickenpox and who hasn't gotten the chickenpox vaccine. Older adults who receive the herpes zoster vaccine are not as likely to have as many complications from shingles. If permission is granted, you must credit me for the use of the material and link to this website prominently from your own.
However, the virus remains dormant for long periods of time in the body and may sometimes reactivate to cause inflammation of the nerve roots. Although shingles resolves within a month, it can sometimes lead to complications or the pain can persist for months thereafter (post-herpetic neuralgia).
The blisters break, forming small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts that fall off in 2 to 3 weeks.
Zoster in HIV-infected patients, however, occurs more frequently than would be expected in the age groups studied. This does not happen in every person who had chickenpox and is more frequently seen in diminished immune states.
Vaccines provide an effective albeit not guaranteed protection against developing shingles. No website is a substitute for a visit to a living, breathing dentist or physician who can deal with you personally.
Those who take immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplantation are also at greater risk of getting shingles. If you have had the chickenpox vaccine, you are less likely to get chickenpox and therefore less likely to develop shingles later in life.



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