Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus - varicella-zoster - that causes chickenpox. This virus can lie dormant in the body for decades. A person who had chicken pox as a child can get shingles from the same virus at age 60 or 70. This often-painful condition causes a rash that blisters and feels prickly. While not life-threatening, an outbreak of shingles can be very uncomfortable and can last for weeks. Shingles tends to strike those with weakened immune systems, such as older people, those undergoing treatment for cancer, or people with chronic diseases or diseases that attack the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS.
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The symptoms of shingles include prickling pain on the skin that generally usually precedes a rash and blisters by several days and is usually the first indication of an outbreak of shingles. The skin may also feel very sensitive to the touch. Next, a rash develops, with painful, fluid-filled blisters. Rashes on the face, especially on the nose, have a greater chance of causing complications. Shingles can also cause itchy skin, fever, headache, and fatigue.
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