March 2 at 4:15 AM • Comments: 1 • Views: 7544

Why Does Chicken Pox Come Back As Shingles?

Chicken Pox: An Overview

The chicken pox is caused by a viral infection. Specifically, this viral infection is caused by the Varicella zoster virus, also known as the Herpes zoster virus. Chicken pox is highly contagious, especially after initial infection, through both transmission by air and physical contact. After signs and symptoms have subsided, the Varicella zoster virus is located in a dormant state within the body. Varicella zoster is an efficient virus. It has the ability to remain dormant for months, even years, watching and waiting for conditions to arise suitable for reactivation of infection; shingles.

Shingles: An Overview

Shingles is the condition caused by the reactivation of the Varicella zoster virus. It is not possible to develop shingles without first contracting chicken pox. In healthy individuals, shingles is not typically life threatening, but is accompanied by pain and is contagious. It is a common misunderstanding that shingles is not contagious. Shingles symptoms include the development of a red rash and blisters filled with fluid. This fluid is highly contagious. However, physical contact is required for transmission.

The Varicella Zoster Virus

The Varicella zoster virus is cause for both chicken pox and shingles. The Varicella zoster virus is common in the United States, effecting approximately 5 people in 1000 for the total population. The values change based on location and population statistics. It is a highly effective virus, containing ribonucleic acid (RNA) and all necessary components for high infection rates.

Understanding Shingles: The Causes

Shingles is caused by the once dormant Varicella zoster virus reactivation. The Varicella zoster can remain dormant within the biological systems, usually in spinal nerve cells, of the body for years before reactivation occurs. It is most commonly reactivated due to immune system suppression. Currently, there are no known reasons for the reactivation, however, there do exist strong correlations between outbreaks and certain conditions listed below. There is also no scientific evident linking why certain individuals develop shingles outbreaks and others do not.

  • Emotional Trauma
  • Physical Trauma
  • Serious Illness
  • Medication Use

Understanding Shingles: The Outbreak

When inactive (dormant), the Varicella zoster virus is located within spinal nerve cells. Spinal nerves are paired, one on each side of the spinal cord. Each spinal nerve is responsible for a small specific area of the body, on the side that the nerve is located. This is why the typical outbreak of shingles is commonly localized to one banded area including a red rash and blisters, as the Varicella zoster reactivation only affects one spinal nerve.

Understanding Shingles: Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options currently available to decrease overall signs and symptoms. A vaccination is also available to decrease overall outbreak rates along with symptoms. The following are usually utilized in combinations for the most effective use and several must be prescribed by a physician for use.

  • Antiviral Medications
  • Skin Creams (antiviral and anesthetics)
  • Pain Medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Steroid Medications
  • Natural Products
  • Healthy Diet


1 Comment

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I have just today been diagnosed chiken pox,i recently looked after my fathers shingles,bathing him and applying lotion,he is 87yrs.I was so careful to wash my hands thourghly,but managed to contract chicken pox.My father was put into a care home last thurs,and as I cant visit sons who have never had c pox,are afraid to visit him in the home,yet I desperately need them to on my behalf so he settles into his new inviroment as it was traumatic enough for him without having no relatives visit.Are my sons safe enough ?they are all late 20s and early 30s.I need to reassure them,as surely its ok for nursing staff to shave him ect.Is it only direct contact with dads blistering thats a danger?Which my sons will not be doing,only visiting him in his room.
    This is also a concern for my brother of 58yrs.Cant stand my dad having no visits from family.My heart is broken for him.
    Thank you.
    Brenda Commented on HelloLife · September 29, 2009 at 10:43 AM

You are at least 13 years of age
and agree to our terms of service.

(All Fields Required)

Comment and create a HelloLife account.  

Respond on facebook (Post to facebook and HelloLife)

Account Login Home CatalogResources
Shopping Cart:

Your cart is empty!

We're sorry, no one is currently available for online chat. Please email or call 1.800.875.0850