Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. In fact, the infection is similar to chickenpox but it only affects adults, generally older adults. The symptoms of shingles include a rash that generally affects one side of the body. It can appear as a long strip of bumps and rash or it can cover a small area. Either way, it generally affects older adults who, for whatever reason, have a weak immune system. While shingles can reoccur, generally people only suffer from shingles once.
As a child, you may have suffered from chickenpox. If you did, then you still have the virus in your system. It simply became dormant, but it still exists in your nerve roots. For some, the virus will stay dormant for the rest of their lives. For others, however, the virus will reactivate and cause shingles.
What are the symptoms of shingles? First, you'll have a headache. You may experience flu like symptoms, too, but you won't have a fever. Then you'll start to see a rash that is both painful and itches. Then the rash will turn into blisters that may leak fluid and then crust over. In about four weeks, these blisters will heal. Note, however, that some people will never experience a rash. Others may have a horrible rash that lasts for several weeks.
There is no shingles cure, but there are some ways of treating shingles. Antiviral medication, including steroids, can help you get over the illness. Antidepressants, topical creams, and other pain medication can all help you get over shingles more quickly and can reduce the pain. There is also a singles vaccine that can prevent older adults from ever suffering from shingles.