Herpes Zoster (shingles) is a viral infection that causes a very painful rash. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus—which is the same virus linked to chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox can also get shingles. The virus can remain dormant in the body for years and then resurface along nerve pathways in the skin—thus causing Shingles. It can appear anywhere but most often it appears as a band of blisters at the center of the back, which wraps around to the front breast bone on one side of the body. It can also appear around one eye or on one side of the face. Pain is the first indication, which is followed three days later by skin rash, blisters and itching.
There is no known reason why the varicella zoster virus becomes active after remaining dormant for years.
If the rash appears around the eye, medical treatment is necessary to prevent permanent eye damage. Caution should also be exercised in patients with severe immune deficiency.