Shingles is a viral infection resulting from the same virus that causes chickenpox. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in a person’s body. It can then reactivate later, causing shingles. It is not possible for a person to get shingles if they have never had chickenpox.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious virus that infected more than
After recovery, the virus can hibernate in the body’s nerve cells, where it may remain dormant for years because the body cannot remove it without damaging the nerves. When the virus reactivates, instead of a chickenpox infection, it may cause a shingles outbreak.
In this article, we discuss the relationship between shingles, chickenpox, and the VZV vaccine. We also explore ways to avoid virus transmission.
Before the rash appears, people may notice symptoms such as fever and feeling generally unwell. The severity of the rash can vary, but it usually presents as clusters of small, itchy spots. Blisters can then develop on the spots, which will dry up and form a crust. The crusts then fall off on their own.
In addition to the painful rash, shingles may also cause other symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Shingles on the face can also affect the eyes and cause vision loss.
The CDC notes that roughly
Most adults with the dormant virus do not develop shingles, but in other cases, the virus can reactivate several times. While rare, children can get shingles.
Anyone who previously had chickenpox can develop shingles, but it is more common after the
- immunosuppression, due to age, health conditions, or medications
- family history of shingles
- physical trauma
- psychological stress
- female sex
- comorbid conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus
These risk factors may also increase the possibility of experiencing complications from shingles. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which refers to severe pain in the areas where the rash was present. About
- hearing problems
- brain inflammation
The CDC considers chickenpox to be highly contagious, infecting up to
People who have never had chickenpox or have not received the vaccination
Most people who develop shingles typically only experience one episode during their lifetime, but a person can have shingles more than once. Evidence suggests that recurrent shingles is a rare occurrence and is
If a person has not had chickenpox or is not vaccinated, they are at a higher risk of contracting VZV. The
While there is currently no cure for shingles, the CDC recommends that healthy adults aged 50 years and older take the two-dose
Shingrix is a recombinant zoster vaccine, meaning it uses specific pieces of the virus to generate a strong immune response. It is also suitable for people with weakened immune systems and long-term health problems. Evidence indicates that two doses of Shingrix are more than 90% effective at preventing shingles.
Previously, the CDC also recommended
- washing hands frequently
- trying not to touch or scratch the rash
- covering the rash
- avoiding contact with vulnerable people
People can also decrease their chances of a shingles recurrence by getting the Shingrix two-dose vaccination and boosting their immune system by exercising, quitting smoking, eating healthy foods, getting good sleep, and managing stress.
Shingles is a viral infection resulting from the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes varicella or chickenpox. After a chickenpox infection resolves, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells of the body. When it reactivates, instead of causing chickenpox, it results in shingles.
Only people with previous exposure to VZV can develop shingles. While shingles is less contagious than chickenpox, people can still spread the virus. People cannot spread shingles, but individuals can acquire chickenpox from a person with shingles if they have not had chickenpox before or did not receive the chickenpox vaccine.