Herpes Zoster (Shingles) News

Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you had chickenpox earlier in life, the herpes virus that caused it remains present in your body. In some instances, it reactivates later in life, and shingles is the result. Shingles can occur in individuals at any age, but it seems to be most common in 60- to 80-year-olds.

In individuals who have already had chickenpox, shingles is not contagious. But if a person has not had chickenpox, he or she should avoid exposure to a person with an active shingles infection. The fluid from the shingles sores can cause chickenpox if a person has not previously had the disease.

Symptoms of Shingles

A shingles outbreak shares some similarities with chickenpox, but also exhibits some differences. For example, the blisters often look like those of chickenpox, but they only affect one side of the body, and often just a few specific locations on that side of the body, such as the trunk around the waistline. Shingles is also characterized by itchiness and pain.

In most cases, shingles will resolve on its own in a matter of weeks. But it poses the risk of complications to some, including those with a suppressed immune system. The most common complication is lingering chronic pain related to the shingles. This is known as postherpetic neuralgia. It can also lead to scarring, or vision problems if it occurs on the face or near the eyes.


Recently, a shingles vaccine was developed for older adults who already have had chickenpox. This has proven effective at preventing shingles or reducing its severity, and it’s recommended for many individuals. In the case of an active shingles infection, it’s worth seeing a doctor. There are several available anti-viral medications that can reduce the severity and the duration of the disease when it does occur.

SOURCES: National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Aging; National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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Health Tip: One of Three Adults Gets Shingles

It's the same virus that causes chickenpox in kids

Is Shingles Tied to Heart, Stroke Risk?

More research is needed, but doctors should warn patients, researchers say

Shingles Vaccine Cuts Chronic Pain, Hospitalizations

Protection lasts years after immunization, researchers found

Experimental Shingles Vaccine Looks Quite Effective: Study

Found to protect about 90 percent of adults age 70 and up

Chickenpox, Shingles Vaccines Linked to Rare Eye Inflammation

But study doesn't prove cause-and-effect

Shingles Linked to Raised Heart Risks for Seniors, Study Finds

Chance of stroke, heart attack increased most in the first week after diagnosis of the painful rash

Shingles Vaccine Appears to Cut Odds of Long-Term Pain

Findings support immunization of older adults

Shingles Vaccine Still Effective After Chemotherapy

Study finds cancer treatment didn't seem to lessen immunization's effects

Stroke Risk Spikes Shortly After Shingles Episode: Study

But getting antiviral meds to treat painful rash lowers chances of brain attack, researchers add

Boomers Should Consider Shingles Vaccine, Physician Says

Painful condition, caused by same virus responsible for chicken pox, can last several weeks

Younger Adults Who've Had Shingles May Face Higher Stroke Risk

Study also found increased odds of heart attack, mini-stroke in older adults years after infection

Chickenpox Vaccine Not Responsible for Rise in Shingles, Study Says

39 percent increase over 18 years remains unexplained

Untreated Depression May Cut Shingles Vaccine Effectiveness

Antidepressants linked to improved immune response in older patients, researchers say

Shingles Vaccine Safe for Those With Autoimmune Diseases: Study

Study allays fears that the shot might raise shingles risk in people with psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis

Little Short-Term Risk of Repeat Bout of Shingles, Study Finds

Seniors were unlikely to have recurrence of painful skin condition, researchers found

Shingles Vaccine Safe, Underutilized, Study Says

CDC recommends it for people 60 and older

Children With Asthma at Higher Risk for Shingles: Study

Painful skin condition typically strikes older adults, researchers note

Health Tip: Getting the Shingles Vaccine

Who is a candidate, and who isn't

Chickenpox Vaccine May Wipe Out Related Deaths: Study

U.S. mortality rate dropped from about 105 to just 14 in 2007, research shows

U.S. Shingles Vaccine Approval Expanded

To include people in their 50s

COPD May Make Shingles More Likely

People taking corticosteroids for breathing disorder face highest risk, study finds

Shingles Vaccine Looks Like a Safe Bet for Seniors: Study

Although not perfect, the shot will protect many older folks, researchers say

Without Chickenpox Shot, Kids' Risk Rises Ninefold

Vaccine's success at curbing disease has led to false sense of security, experts say

Chicken Pox Shot Protects Against Shingles, Too

Vaccinated children less likely to get herpes zoster virus, study finds

Qutenza Approved for Post-Shingles Nerve Pain

Active ingredient is found in chili peppers

Shingles Raises Stroke Risk: Study

Patients with the virus should be monitored for high blood pressure, expert says

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs Raise Shingles Risk

Older people and those also taking steroids are most vulnerable, study finds

New Hope Against the Cold Sore Virus

Driving herpes simplex out of hiding could bring about a cure, scientists say

Vulnerability to Shingles May Hinge on Family

Most adults carry the virus but those with affected relatives at higher risk

Health Tip: Understanding Shingles

Caused by the same virus as chickenpox

T'ai Chi Boosts Immune System Against Shingles in Older Adults

Martial arts exercises made resistance comparable to standard vaccine for the virus, study says

Health Tip: Symptoms of Shingles

If you've had chicken pox, watch for these signs

Zostavax Helps Prevent Shingles in Seniors

Vaccine prevented 50 percent of cases in people older than 60

Shingles Vaccine Has Successful Trial

Should be made available to seniors now, expert says

Health Tip: A Shingles Source of Chickenpox

Adults can transmit the virus to others

Herb May Help Heal Herpes

Cream cuts down on the number of lesions during an outbreak, study finds

Vaccine Protects Transplant Patients from Shingles

Chicken pox inoculation cuts risk of painful resurgence of virus