FAQs About Shingles

FAQs About Shingles

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Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

Written By Lorna Collier

Updated on August 10, 2021

Shingles is a common illness affecting about 1 million Americans annually. If you have had chickenpox, you are at risk, because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus reactivating in your body. The virus can live in your nervous system in inactive form for decades. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why it becomes active again, but shingles becomes more likely in people who have a compromised immune system due to illness, medications, stress or other factors. Shingles also is associated with aging.

What are typical shingles symptoms? While most people associate shingles with a rash, oftentimes the disease starts first with no rash. Instead, initial symptoms include burning, itching or tingling sensations in a part of your body, most often on the side of your torso. You also may feel generally unwell, with such symptoms as headache, nausea, fever and/or chills. The trademark shingles rash will start anywhere from 1 to 14 days later in the area where you experienced pa

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