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The same virus that causes chicken pox causes herpes zoster or shingles. Once the virus is contracted, it remains in the nerve cells in what is called a resting phase. When there is a recurrent outbreak, the virus manifests itself as herpes zoster or shingles. You cannot get herpes zoster without having had chicken pox. The first outbreak will always be in the form of chicken pox and subsequent outbreaks will be in the form of shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles

Initial symptoms are similar to other strains of the herpes virus, tingling and/or burning type soreness on a specific part of the body. These symptoms are followed by redness and a chicken pox like rash that blisters and causes significant discomfort. Episodes tend to last more than ten days and as long as a few weeks. The blisters eventually dry up, crust and heal the same way cold sores do. Redness and lingering pain can last well beyond the healing phase. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia, and most often occurs with immunosuppressed individuals and the elderly.


Shingles or herpes zoster is treated with the same anti-viral drugs as are usually prescribed for herpes Type 1 and herpes Type 2.* Pain relievers and corticosteroids are sometimes also used to reduce swelling and pain.*


*Disclaimer, results may vary from person to person.