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Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Nearly 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles; even children can get shingles. However, the risk of getting the disease increases as a person gets older. About half of all cases occur among men and women who are 60 years old or older.
Shingles usually starts as a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7–10 days and clears up within 2–4 weeks.
Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears.
Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. An important characteristic of the shingles rash helpful in diagnosis, is that it does not cross over from one side of the body to the other. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash. Shingles can affect the eye and cause loss of vision.
Other symptoms of shingles can include
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