Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles typically affects adults aged 50 and above who have previously had chickenpox, because when the body recovers from chickenpox the VZV remains hidden in nerve cells. When the immune system weakens due to age or other factors, the virus can be reactivated, leading to the condition known as shingles.
The initial symptoms of shingles include the development of a red rash in an area where the patient is experiencing pain, which later turns into clear fluid-filled blisters. These blisters often appear grouped or along a nerve path. Subsequently, they break open into sores and crust over, accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation on the skin. Some individuals may experience skin pain for 4-5 days before the appearance of these fluid-filled blisters.
Individuals who have had shingles have a recurrence risk of approximately 6.2%, with risk factors including stress, inadequate rest, being over 50 years old, receiving immunosuppressive medications, and having immune system deficiencies, such as a HIV infection or cancer.
In the case of having previously received the live-attenuated zoster vaccine (ZVL), you can receive the recombinant subunit zoster vaccine (RZV) in 2 doses but waiting at least 2 months after the previous vaccine.