Herpes zoster is commonly known as shingles. It is a viral disease caused by reactivation of varicella-zoster virus which remains dormant in the sensory ganglia of the cranial nerve or the dorsal root ganglia after a previous varicella infection. Varicella is commonly known as chickenpox; it occurs in children while herpes zoster occurs in adults or the elderly.
It is believed that zoster occurs due to the failure of the immune defense system to control the latent replication of the virus. The incidence of herpes zoster is strongly correlated to the immune status. Individuals who maintain a high level of immunity rarely develop shingles. The infection is not benign and can present in many ways. Even after herpes zoster resolves, many patients continue to suffer from moderate to severe pain known as postherpetic neuralgia.
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