What is Herpes Zoster?

What is Herpes Zoster?

What is Herpes Zoster?

Shingles, also known as shingles, is an inflammation of the nerves and surrounding skin area caused by an infection with the varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus.(1) Shingles usually occurs when the dormant varicella zoster virus is reactivated in an adult who recovered from chickenpox as a child.(2)

A painful rash most often begins on one side of the face or body and progresses to form blisters that usually heal within seven to XNUMX days. One to five days before the rash appears, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the areas where the rash later develops. Other symptoms of shingles can be fever, headache, chills and stomach pain. Shingles typically heals within two to four weeks.(3)

People who were affected by natural chickenpox as children and recovered from it usually have only one attack of shingles in their lifetime. However, a second or even a third episode has been reported in rare cases.(4)

Scientists do not know the biological mechanisms underlying the reactivation of varicella zoster infection, but risk factors are thought to include aging, autoimmune disorders, immunosuppression and stress.(5-6) Other populations at risk of developing shingles are those with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS or other diseases that impair healthy immune function. Drugs used for organ transplants and for cancer treatment can also increase the risk of shingles.(7)

What are the causes of shingles?

The same varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles disease (herpes zoster).(8) Individuals who recover from chickenpox usually acquire long-lasting immunity to chickenpox.(9) After recovery from chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus becomes dormant (inactive), and immunity to chickenpox is asymptomatically boosted when adults come in contact with children who have chickenpox. However, for reasons that doctors don't fully understand, in some individuals the dormant varicella zoster virus becomes active again and causes shingles.(10)

Is shingles contagious?

Shingles is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person. It is the result of reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox (varicella zoster virus - VZV). Reactivation of this virus is the cause of shingles in people who have already had chickenpox. However, VZV can be spread from a person with active shingles to another person who has never had chickenpox. This occurs when the shingles rash is in the blister stage and the fluid from the blisters comes into direct contact with a person.(11)

People exposed to VZV from a person with an active shingles infection might develop chickenpox, but not shingles. Shingles is not as contagious as chicken pox, and the risk of spreading the infection decreases when the rash is covered. When shingles blisters crust over, the risk of infecting others has passed.(11)

You can prevent spreading VZV to others by:(11)

  • Keeping the rash covered;
  • refraining from scratching or touching the rash;
  • Washing hands frequently;
  • avoiding contact with people until the rash has crusted over.

This article is summarized and translated by National Vaccine Information Center.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Corvelva invites you to get in-depth information by reading all the sections and links, as well as the manufacturer's product leaflets and technical data sheets, and to speak with one or more trusted professionals before deciding to vaccinate yourself or your child. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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