It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox . Shingles occurs in people who already had chickenpox. After causing the first chickenpox infection, the virus does not leave the body. It settles in nerve roots near the spinal cord. Once reactivated, the virus travels along nerve paths to the skin. There it causes pain and a rash.
These risk factors increase your chance of developing shingles. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
- Age: 50 or older
- Compromised immune system:
- Excessive fatigue
- Physical or psychological stress
- Radiation therapy
Shingles can occur in those with no known risk factor other than age.
Shingles cannot be transmitted from one person to another. But a person who has never had chickenpox and never received the varicella vaccine , could get chickenpox if he came in contact with a person who has shingles.
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