According to Mayo Clinic, the varicella-zoster virus causes shingles. This is the same virus that is responsible for causing chicken pox. Shingles occurs when the chicken pox virus becomes reactivated.
Mayo Clinic explains that individuals who have suffered from chicken pox in the past have a chance of developing shingles. Shingles is not contagious unless an individual has not previously contracted chicken pox or has not received the chicken pox vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the symptoms of shingles include an itchy rash on one side of the body or face, pain, an upset stomach, chills, a fever and a headache. Mayo Clinic explains the risks for shingles include being over the age of 50, suffering from a disease that weakens the immune system, having endured chemotherapy or radiation, and having taken steroids or prednisone over a long period of time. The CDC states the medications that treat shingles are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. These medications aid in shortening the duration of the virus and in lessening the harshness of the symptoms. As of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine for shingles for individuals 50 and older. The vaccine does not prevent an individual from acquiring the disease, but it does help decrease the symptoms.