Shingles is a skin rash that is caused by the chickenpox virus, and is part of the herpes family of viruses. It can occur in anyone who has previously suffered from chickenpox, and involves the herpes zoster virus being reactivated as a result of emotional stress, some cancer treatments and immune deficiency. It can lead to outbreaks of puss filled blisters along the skin, often accompanied by a burning pain. Normally the condition lasts around 3 weeks, but sometimes longer. The blisters will eventually burst and crust over, but until that occurs the sufferer will be extremely contagious and can spread the condition to others. Antiviral drugs can be administered to reduce the severity and duration of the rash, but often treatment can just take the form of anti-itching lotions and washing of the affected area.
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