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Shingles is a skin condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and characterized by a painful localized rash. Many people are aware of this disease, although most don't know a lot about its nature and incidence. Here are seven things you should know about shingles.

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1. The varicella-zoster virus lives inside the body for many years before shingles appear

The shingles virus, varicella zoster, also causes chickenpox. People who've had chickenpox are susceptible to shingles because VZV remains dormant in the body. As a person recovers from chickenpox, the VZV leaves the body, but some remains in the area around the spinal cord. This residual virus may reactivate as shingles at any time, but the cause of reactivation is not well understood. In most individuals, shingles occur many years after chickenpox.

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