Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a common viral infection of the nerves, which results in a painful rash of small blisters on one side of the body. Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox awakens as shingles later. In some people, it stays dormant forever however in others the virus reawakens when disease, stress or aging weakens the immune system. The rash is unlikely to last longer than 3 weeks, pain can continue long after the shingles rash heals. This long-lasting pain, called PHN (post herpetic neuralgia), can stay for a long time—days, weeks, months or even years. There is no foolproof way to predict who will experience PHN but likely increases as people are older.
While there is no cure for Shingles, an antiviral medication may help get well sooner and feel less pain. Wearing loose clothing and using cool compresses on the rash areas might aid in feeling more comfortable.