Some profiles being more sensitive to it than others.
Shingles or reactivation of the varicella virus
Shingles is a viral infectious disease caused by the reactivation of varicella zoster virus, occurring in a person who has had chickenpox. The rash is often the intercostal (in the chest), but shingles can reach other parts of the body. It heals, usually in 2 to 3 weeks but complications are possible, especially in the elderly or immunocompromised individuals.
What is shingles?
Shingles is a viral infectious disease caused by the reactivation of varicella zoster virus from the family of herpes viruses, occurring long after chickenpox.
After healing of chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (varicella-zoster virus: VZV) stays "asleep" at the root of nerves in nerve ganglia.
Years later, it can reactivate and cause the onset of shingles. The virus multiplies at a nerve ganglion and along the nerve fibers to cause skin rash or painful mucosa in the territory innervated by these fibers. This node corresponds to the area where the rash of chickenpox was particularly intense: it is generally the trunk, and then comes the head.
Shingles can affect different body parts:
about half the time, thorax (intercostal zoster);
the lower abdomen with possible damage to the genitals;
the neck ;
Shingles is most common after age 50.
Symptoms of shingles intercostal: pain and rash on one side
For 1 to 3 days, or a week, pain and burning sensations are felt unilateral (one side of the chest) before the rash of shingles is manifested.
Ganglia are often palpable in the armpit on the same side.
A few days later, the rash appears on the area innervated by nerve fibers affected the eruption is localized on one side of the body in contrast to that of varicella which extends over the entire body. In the intercostal zoster, vesicles form a band extending from the spine towards the lateral region of the thorax, on one side.
How is shingles?
Nearly 90% of shingles heal without sequelae in two or three weeks and the subsequent occurrence of another episode of shingles is uncommon.
However, some complications may occur:
persistent pain that can last more than six months (post-herpetic neuralgia), mostly occurring in the elderly;
secondary bacterial infection of wounds;
an extension on several areas of the body in case of immunosuppression.
Collège national des enseignants de dermatologie. Infections de l'enfant et de l'adulte immunocompétents : varicelle et zona. Site internet : campus de dermatologie de l'université médicale virtuelle francophone. Nantes (France) ; 2010 [consulté le 12 février 2016]
Laurent R. Varicelle - Zona. EMC - AKOS (Traité de médecine) 2005:1-6 [Article 2-0698].
Source: French State Health Insurance website: