Shingles and the Herpes Zoster Varicella Virus

Shingles HerpesShingles is caused by the herpes varicella zoster virus. This is the virus that causes chicken pox. If you had chicken pox as a child, then you now carry the herpes zoster virus. The virus will live in your spine. A person who has had chicken pox has a 50 percent chance of getting shingles. Most cases of shingles develop in patients over 50, but it can happen earlier in life too.

You can develop Shingles at any age, but are more likely to develop the virus if:

  • You are older than 50
  • You had the chickenpox virus before as an infant.
  • You have a weakened immune system from another disease, or medications.

If you come into contact with a shingles rash, and you have not contracted chicken pox earlier in life, you will develop the chicken pox virus, and not shingles.