It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox. After causing the first chickenpox infection, the virus is not totally eliminated from the body. Some of the remaining virus settles in nerve roots near the spinal cord. Once reactivated, the virus travels along nerve paths to the skin. There it causes pain and a rash.
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Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Peter Lucas, MD
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