What is it?
Shingles is a type of viral infection. It causes painful rashes and fluid-filled blisters. It’s not uncommon to also experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, and fever.
You may have heard shingles and chickenpox are related, and that’s true. The same virus — the varicella-zoster virus — causes both conditions. If you had chickenpox as a kid, the virus stays in your body. Shingles occurs when this virus is reactivated.
How did I get it?
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. If you were lucky enough to escape chickenpox during your childhood, you can still get shingles by coming in contact with a live or active shingles blister.
You can think of shingles as the grown-up version of chickenpox. While chickenpox is most common to children under 12, shingles is most common to adults over 60.
Having a weaker immune system and undergoing chemotherapy or radiation also increases your risk.
Am I going to be OK?
Shingles is a common infection. In fact, about 1 out of 3 people in the United States will get shingles.
It can be painful, and sometimes the pain can persist and become chronic even after the rash goes away. There are medications and remedies to help you manage the pain.
It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice a new rash with blisters, especially if it’s painful, because early treatment with antiviral medications can reduce the pain and duration of the shingles.
Shingles blisters usually clear up within a month, but the nerve pain associated with the condition can last for several weeks or months.
Your doctor will likely prescribe medications to ease your pain. Creams, gels, and patches may also be used to manage nerve pain that can develop after the blisters go away.
Where can I learn more?
If you’re showing signs of shingles, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can perform a physical exam to confirm a diagnosis.
In the meantime, check out the other shingles content we have here at Healthline.