The varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes the skin condition known as shingles, which is characterized by a painful localized rash. Varicella zoster also causes chickenpox. Many people are aware of shingles, although most do not know a lot about its nature and incidence.
People who have had chickenpox are susceptible to shingles because VZV remains dormant for many years. As a person recovers from chickenpox, VZV leaves the body, but some remains in the area around the spinal cord and brain. This residual virus may reactivate as shingles at any time. In most individuals, shingles occurs many years after chickenpox. The cause of reactivation is not well understood.
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