What Causes Shingles?

Shingles is extremely unpleasant, and it’s actually more common than you might think. Approximately one in three people in the United States will have shingles at some point in their life, according to the CDC.

While shingles is rarely life-threatening, it’s very painful. Our AFC Urgent Care Athens, TN team provides more information about this viral rash below, so keep reading.

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. 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 your torso.

The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body, and we’ve listed the most common ones below.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Shingles

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching

What Causes Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who’s had chickenpox may develop shingles, due to the virus lying dormant in your nervous system for years afterward.

Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin, producing shingles. However, not everyone who has had chickenpox will get shingles. If you believe you may have shingles, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or our AFC center in the situations that we’ve listed below.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • The pain and rash occur near an eye. If left untreated, this infection can lead to permanent eye damage.
  • You’re 60 or older, because age significantly increases your risk of complications
  • You or someone in your family has a weakened immune system, due to cancer, medications or chronic illness
  • The rash is widespread and painful

Shingles isn’t something to take lightly! Don’t hesitate to reach out to our AFC team if you have any non-emergency health concerns!