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What causes a shingles rash?

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Quick Answer

The varicella zoster virus causes a shingles rash, according to WebMD. The virus commonly strikes adults who have weakened or comprised immune systems.

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What causes a shingles rash?
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Full Answer

Shingles is a rash that typically occurs on one side of the body. It can also occur on one side of the face. The symptoms include pain, burning or a tingling sensation. Other symptoms can include a red rash, fluid filled blisters and itching, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms including a fever, headaches and chills. On occasion, a person will also be very sensitive to light.

When a person gets shingles, it is the chickenpox virus becoming active in the body. Only people who have had chickenpox at some point in their life are susceptible to shingles. Commonly, a person gets shingles one time but, in rare cases, a person can suffer from it two or three times.

Shingles is not typically contagious but, a person who has not had chicken pox can contract it after being exposed to a person with shingles. Shingles is not usually serious. However, in older people, the virus can cause complications, such as when the rash is near the eyes or mouth.

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