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(Herpes Zoster; Post-herpetic Neuralgia)



Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox. After causing the first chickenpox infection, the virus is not totally eliminated from the body. Some of the remaining virus settles in nerve roots near the spinal cord. When reactivated, the virus travels along nerve paths to the skin where it causes pain and a rash.
Shingles Blisters
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Risk Factors

Shingles is more common in women, and in people aged 50 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of shingles include:
Shingles can occur in those with no known risk factors.
Shingles is not usually transmitted from one person to another. But, a person who has never had chickenpox and never received the varicella vaccine is likely to get chickenpox if contact occurs with a person who has shingles. Covering shingles sores with a bandage reduces the risk of transmitting shingles to others.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

VZV Research Foundation



Public Health Agency of Canada

The College of Family Physicians of Canada



Ocular shingles. Wills Eye Institute website. Available at: Updated October 5, 2011. Accessed August 28, 2014.

Shingles. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed August 28, 2014.

Shingles: diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed August 28, 2014.

Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: . Updated May 1, 2014. Accessed August 28, 2014.

1/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Tseng HF, Smith N, Harpaz R, Bialek SR, Sy LS, Jacobsen SJ. Herpes zoster vaccine in older adults and the risk of subsequent herpes zoster disease. JAMA. 2011;305(2):160-166.

6/9/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Forbes H, Bhaskaran K, et al. Quantification of risk factors for herpes zoster: population based case-control study. BMJ 2014;348.


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