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The chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster, VZV) may remain in a dormant state in the body after an individual has chickenpox, usually in the roots of nerves that control sensation. In about one out of five people previously infected with chickenpox, the virus "wakes up," or reactivates, often many years or decades after a childhood chickenpox infection. When the virus is reactivated and causes shingles , the resulting virus is usually referred to as herpes zoster virus. Researchers do not know what causes this reactivation. What is known is that after reactivation, the virus travels along a sensory nerve into the skin and causes shingles .
An episode of shingles generally lasts two to six weeks. The first inkling that something’s not right may come days before any visible evidence of the infection. You’ll have itching, tingling, or intense pain across a strip on skin on one side of the body. Days later, a rash appears, usually in a single stripe across the left or right side of the torso or face. (In rare cases, people can have shingles without developing a rash.) You may have a headache, fever, chills, or nausea. Fluid-filled blisters begin to appear and continue forming for a few days. It can take five to 10 days before the blisters dry out and form scabs.