DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Shingles rash on the forehead of a 61-year-old man. Also called herpes zoster, this is a viral infection of skin nerves resulting in a painful rash of small crusting blisters. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Remnants of the virus, from an attack of chickenpox, may lie dormant in sensory nerves for years. A decline in the immune system, from stress or with advancing age, can lead to an attack of shingles. One of the lasting results of a shingles episode can be the pain resulting from damage to the nerves. Antiviral drugs will only minimize nerve damage if they are used early on. Analgesic drugs may soothe post-herpetic pain.
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