Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is also known as herpes zoster. The rash is most common in older adults who have weakened immune systems due to disease, stress, or age.
Shingles occurs only in people who have never been vaccinated against chickenpox and have had chickenpox at some time in their life. The rash is not contagious by person-to-person contact, but it is possible for someone who has Shingles to spread the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox and has not been vaccinated against chickenpox.
Symptoms of shingles rash appear in stages, and not all symptoms will be present in every shingles patient. First you may feel fatigued, headache, light sensitivity, or other flu-like symptoms. Following these, you might feel a patch of skin that is excessively itchy, dry, or irritated. Shingles rash then appears as a cluster of fluid-filled sores that can break and scab over. The sores may take a month or more to heal, depending on their location and the patient’s health.
Treatment for shingles most commonly includes antiviral medications, topical ointments and antibiotics, and sometimes pain medication to relieve any long-term pain.