DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Shingles. Close-up of a rash of shingles, also known as Herpes zoster, affecting the lower back of a five year old child. Herpes zoster is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which also causes chickenpox. After chickenpox most of the viruses are destroyed, but some survive dormant in sensory nerves that supply certain areas of skin. Relapse of infection starts with an excessive sensitivity and pain, followed by a rash in the area. Red spots quickly turn into tense blisters which then become yellowish and soon dry. Small pitted scars may result. The pain is a consequence of damage to the nerves and may last months or years. Antiviral drugs are used to minimise the nerve damage.
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