Shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus—the varicella-zoster virus. Because they’re caused by the same virus, someone who has never had chickenpox can’t get shingles if he or she were to come in contact with someone else that is infected with shingles.
To learn more about shingles, check out the information that our AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail team shares below!
What Is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus that causes a painful rash. Anyone who gets shingles has had a case of chickenpox first, and they’ve typically had it decades prior.
Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of the torso. We’ve listed the most common symptoms of shingles below.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
- Tingling or numb sensation under the skin
- A patchy, red rash that oozes and itches
How Does Shingles Happen?
The only way you can get shingles is if you’ve had chickenpox first. If someone has shingles and is at the blister stage when contagious, he or she could transmit the virus to you—but you would get chickenpox, not shingles.
If you had chickenpox when you were younger, your body fought off the virus, but it didn’t totally get rid of it. When this happened, the virus went into hiding somewhere at the base of a nerve in your body for years and stayed dormant. Then, at some point when you get older, between 50 and 60 years old, the virus will decide to wake up and cause a rash again, this time as shingles.
Additional Risk Factors for Shingles
- Having a disease that weakens the immune system, such as HIV and cancer
- Receiving cancer treatment or other medications that weaken the immune system
- Experiencing long-term use of steroids, like prednisone
- Being over the age of 50, which puts you at greater risk for shingles
Have further questions about shingles? Don’t hesitate to ask our AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail, as we can help!