What is herpes zoster (shingles)?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Herpes zoster (shingles) is an acute, cutaneous viral infection caused by the reactivation of varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a herpesvirus that is the cause of varicella (chickenpox). Differences in clinical manifestations between varicella and herpes zoster apparently depend on an individual's immune status; those with no previous exposure to VZV, most commonly children, develop the clinical syndrome of varicella, whereas those with circulating varicella antibodies develop a localized recrudescence, zoster.


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