Shingles is a viral disease produced by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chicken pox. Its symptoms include pain and a blistering rash that occurs along the nerves that contain dormant virus. You can not catch shingles. However, you can catch chicken pox through direct contact with someone who has shingles, by touching the area of the rash. Most people who get shingles are old. It sometimes infects younger people, or people with a weakened immune system. Stress may trigger shingles. The disease starts with tingling, itchiness, or pain on an infected person's skin. After a few days, the disease causes a blistering rash. This rash may be on the trunk or face. The rash grows into small blisters filled with fluid. These blisters dry out and crust over for several days. The rash causes anything from mild itching to extreme pain. The rash stays in one region of the body.
The shingles virus is contagious from person to person only by direct contact. For this reason, persons with shingles are advised to limit contact with those who are not immune to chicken pox, those with increased risk are young children and pregnant women. Contracting chickenpox when one is pregnant can be dangerous to the unborn child.
If people have had chickenpox, they cannot get chickenpox from someone else again. However, it is thought that contact with a shingles patient may trigger a person's own dormant chickenpox virus to become shingles.
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