Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Identifying a rash can be quite difficult because they usually look the same and have the same symptoms. Yet they all tend to have different causes. For example, a Scabies rash is caused by tiny mites, but the rash can also be allergic to materials or food. It could also be due to a virus. One of the rashes caused by a virus is shingles. This sounds like something that doesn’t happen often, but nothing could be further from the truth. After all, 1 in 3 Americans will have shingles (at least) once in their lifetime. This means you have a chance of 33.33% getting shingles, which makes it important to identify this skin disorder. Why you may ask? Well, if you spot the symptoms early, you can immediately treat it, because trust me: Shingles is very painful and keeps you from doing many everyday things!

Causes of Shingles
As said, shingles is a viral infection caused by a virus. This virus is called varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Most people get chickenpox when they are a baby or child. When you are better from chickenpox, the virus remains in an inactive state in the body and never affects you again. In 1 in 3 people, the virus reactivates, causing shingles as a result. Fortunately, most people experience a flare-up of this virus only once in their life – which means the virus is inactive again. Note: this isn’t always the case, some people have shingles more than once in their life.

Is it Contagious?
Shingles can be contagious for people who never had chickenpox (the varicella-zoster virus) or didn’t take the chickenpox vaccine. Don’t panic right away, the rash is only contagious via fluid-to-skin contact. This means that it’s only contagious if your shingles rash blisters leak fluid and someone who doesn’t carry the virus already comes into direct contact with the fluid – think of touching the leaking rash. The person who gets infected will then most likely get chickenpox and thus have a chance of developing shingles later on, but again, there is a 1 in 3 chance if the virus activates. Please note: getting chickenpox as a (young) adult is painful, and you can get very sick. Chickenpox is extremely contagious, so the chances of infecting someone then are more plausible than with shingles. Continue reading on the next page and find out how you can recognize if you’ve shingles or not.