What is Shingles?
Shingles, also known as Zoster or Herpes Zoster, is a painful localized skin rash often with blisters that is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV) - the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in a dormant state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks
People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime, but long-term pain often occurs. In rare cases, a person may have second or even a third episode. The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and the long-term pain that can follow shingles is to get vaccinated.
Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. The risk of the disease increases as a person gets older and about half of all cases occur among men and women over 60 years of age. However, it is important to note than even children can get shingles. There are an estimated 1 million cases of the disease each year in the United States.
The shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine prevents against shingles. One dose is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older.