If you have had chickenpox, you have a virus in your body that could reactivate and become shingles.
Herpes zoster is another name for shingles. It comes from the varicella zoster virus, which is what causes chicken pox. After you have had chickenpox, the virus can sit as an inactive virus in your nerve cells. When the virus becomes active again, it migrates out from your nerve cells and onto your skin, causing a rash. The rash is generally red and bumpy, and it is generally located in one area, but only on one side of your body, either the left or the right. The rash can also look like a stripe. There may also be open lesions that are part of the rash. You may have itching and burning in the area before the rash shows up because the virus has irritated the nerves.
Shingles Risk Factors
There are several factors that can cause you to have shingles. One is old age. Generally, the older you are, the more at risk you are for shingles. Part of that is because your immune system stops working as well, so your body has problems with fighting off viruses. There is a shingles vaccine that you may be able to get, which is generally recommended for older people. Another risk factor is if you had chicken pox while you were a very young child. A third risk factor for the herpes zoster virus to reactivate in your system is if you are overweight. However, not being in any of those risk categories doesn't mean that you can't get shingles. It can strike anyone at any time.
Risk of Contagion
If you have shingles, you may worry about whether or not you are going to give it to everyone who lives in your house. The answer is that yes, at times, shingles can be contagious. It isn't as contagious as chicken pox is, though. Generally, it is only contagious when the rash blisters are open and there is fluid coming from them. Once they are dried out and crusty or before any fluid comes out, there is no risk of passing the virus along.
Shingles can be painful. If you have a rash and you aren't sure what it is, you should always go to see a healthcare professional at a medical center such as American Medical Care so that they can give you the right diagnosis and help you treat the problem.