Shingles (herpes zoster)

Shingles (herpes zoster) is caused by varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella). Varicella zoster is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses. Shingles is characterized by painful rashes or blisters usually on face or torso. Other symptoms include itching, burning, numbness, tingling, sensitivity to touch, and blisters that scab over.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What causes shingles?

  • Reason is unclear
  • Anyone who has had chickenpox can still get shingles.
  • Higher risk in older adults with weakened immune systems.
  • Can still develop shingles despite vaccination, but a vaccination can reduce the severity and duration of a shingles breakout.

How is shingles spread?

  • A person with shingles can pass it to anyone who is not immune to chickenpox (varicella) via direct contact.

Can I still get the shingles vaccine even if I have had chickenpox before?

  • Yes, because you can still develop shingles even though you are immune to chickenpox. 
  • Given a normally functioning immune system: once you have had chickenpox, you cannot get chickenpox again.
  • Vaccines are available for both chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster).
 The Shingles (herpes zoster) Vaccination