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What Are Shingles on the Body?

What Are Shingles on the Body?

Painful Rash of Shingles

Shingles on the body is a very painful rash that may occur anywhere on your body, which is caused by the herpes zoster virus (VZR). Often they appear as a strip of blisters that wrap around your torso, possibly reaching your breastbone or face on one side. This is referred to as a dermatome.

Course of Disease

A tingling pain or burning sensation is often the first sign of shingles. There may be numbness or you may itch on your face or elsewhere on your body. Anywhere from a few days to a week later a rash that appears as blisters will appear; then, they become pustular and will scab over in three to five days. Shingles are highly contagious at this time.

It takes the rash two to four weeks to completely recede. Fever, fatigue, a headache and an upset stomach may accompany the illness. Receiving treatment within 72 hours of blisters forming will decrease the severity of the disease. A few people develop complications, which include eye problems and nerve pain that may last for months or years.

The cause of shingles is the herpes zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox. If you have had chicken pox, your risk of getting shingles is greater as the virus always remains dormant in your body.

In the United States, approximately 600,000 to one million people get shingles each year. Ten to twenty percent of the population will develop shingles once during their lifetime. Immunosuppressed individuals are at ha higher risk. Blacks have a significantly lower risk of developing shingles, which indicates a racial difference in susceptibility in the reactivation of VZR. Shingles usually occurs in people who are 50 years and older.




“CDC Features – Protect Yourself against Shingles: Get Vaccinated .” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <>.


“Center for Disease Control Framework for Shingles Prevention and Control.” Healing With Nutrition. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <>.


“Department of Public Health.” Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <>.



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