It’s often believed, that shingles is a fungal infection of the skin. However, it’s caused by the virus named Varicella Zoster. There is a lot of misconceptions concerning this skin disease, so let’s try to sort them out.
Chickenpox and shingles
Both of these diseases are caused by the same virus called Varicella Zoster. Chickenpox is more typical for children, which leads to the development of the strong lifetime immunity to the virus. However, the virus itself does not dissapear from the body completely, it’s hidden in the nerve cells, waiting for appropriate time to come back. About 25% of people who had chickenpox may suffer from shingles in the future. That’s why a previous experience with chickenpox does not guarantee an immunity to shingles.
In most cases, the virus becomes more active when the immune system is weakened. That’s why elderly people over 60 years old whose immune system is weakened by various diseases are particularly vulnerable to shingles. However, kids and young people are not completely safe from shingles either.
Vaccination Effectiveness
It’s often taken for granted that Varicella vaccine is a safeguard from shingles as well. Although, it’s not exactly true. Moreover, Varicella vaccine can’t grant you 100% protection even from the chickenpox. Usually, the duration of protection is limited to 10 years. Nowadays there’s no such thing as shingles vaccine, however, relevant clinical researches are being conducted all over the world.
When shingles take the form of rash, it’s very infectious. If an infected person didn’t previously experience chickenpox, there is a high probability that shingles can lead to chickenpox. And if the virus reaches nerve cells, the person will simultaneously experience both chickenpox and shingles.
Skin rash
The rash is a main symptom of zoster. However, usually it starts with pain and itching. After a few days, the skin rash appears where itching and pain took place (sometimes it can take more time or the rash will not appear at all, depends on the person).
No rash – no shingles
In most cases, it takes up to 4 weeks for the skin rash to completely fade away. However, the rest of symptoms take much more time to get rid of. That’s why you shouldn’t think you’re cured when the rash is healed. In addition to that, sometimes shingles can cause postherpetic neuralgia, which is a pain syndrome of nerve endings damaged by the virus.
Shingles doesn’t necessarily have to be treated
Indeed, shingles is a mild disease that usually goes away on its own. However, a lack of due treatment can lead to further complications, such as neuralgia, cardiovascular system diseases or even a stroke. So don’t test your luck and seek medical attention as soon as possible, since antiviral drugs are the most effective when the disease is at the initial stage.

Author's Bio: 

D. Zarina is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico.