Shingles is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of Chicken Pox virus.
Chickenpox (varicella) is the primary infection with the virus, Herpes zoster.
During this widespread infection, which usually occurs in childhood, virus is "seeded" to nerve cells in the spinal cord, usually of nerves, which supply sensation to the skin.
The virus remains in a resting phase in these nerve cells for years before it is reactivated and grows down the nerves to the skin to produce shingles (zoster). Shingles occurs sporadically.
The annual incidence is about 3.4 per 1000.
It is uncommon in childhood and the incidence increases with age.
The sexes are equally affected.
Shingles patients are infectious, both from virus in the lesions and in some instances the nose and throat.
Susceptible contacts may develop chickenpox from exposure to the infected patient .
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