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CONDITION AFFECTS PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD CHICKENPOX.

SHINGLES is caused by the same virus as chickenpox - everyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles.

It is estimated that 2.5 million people develop shingles every year when the herpes varicella zoster virus is reactivated.

The first sign of shingles is usually excessively sensitive, tingling or burning skin where the shingles rash will later appear.

The area is often painful and people may also experience fever and headaches.

After a few days, the characteristic shingles rash appears as a band or patch of red spots on the side of the trunk or face. It usually appears on one side only.

The rash develops into fluid-filled blisters that then collapse, forming small ulcers. These dry out and form crusts.

A common complication of shingles is pain in the area of the rash that persists after it has disappeared - this is called post-herpetic neuralgia, and is more likely to occur in older patients and can lead to depression.

Treatment usually involves anti-viral medicine, painkillers and calamine lotion to relieve itching.

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The shingles virus
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 24, 2010
Words:178
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