CECILIA MAGILL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CECILIA MAGILL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Shingles, or herpes zoster, rash on the skin of a 31 year old woman. Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which also causes chickenpox. The virus infects sensory nerves, causing the outbreak of small blisters on the skin supplied by the nerves. These are highly infectious as they are filled with fluid containing virus particles. They last around two weeks, after which the area is intensely painful due to nerve damage. Early treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent the pain, but the virus can lie dormant in nerves for years, and nearly always recurs. Photographed one week after diagnosis; the blisters are starting to heal.
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