Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Shingles is a rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (also known as the varicella zoster virus or VZV). Classically, the rash affects only one side of the body, within a single stripe or band known as a dermatome. There may be a prodrome consisting of pain, itching, or tingling localized to the area before the rash appears. This is followed by the development of a painful rash and blisters. Over the course of 7-10 days, the blisters rupture, scab, and crust over. Though the rash may completely resolve in 2-3 weeks, some individuals continue to experience nerve pain in the affected area that can last for months to years (known as postherpetic neuralgia). Older individuals and those with a weakened immune system may be more vulnerable to getting shingles. Although there is no cure, vaccines and oral antiviral medications are available to prevent the disease and lessen the discomfort and symptoms.