Shingles is a common viral infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Like chickenpox, shingles causes a painful rash to appear on the skin. If you had chickenpox as a child, you have a higher risk of developing shingles as an adult. Shingles normally affects people over 50, but it can affect anyone.
The chickenpox virus lies dormant in your nerves after it subsides. It can reawaken later in life as the shingles virus. When the virus reactivates, the infected nerves, and the skin the nerves go to, become inflamed, causing a burning or stabbing pain. A few days later, when the virus reaches the skin, a rash of blisters appears. The skin may be very sensitive, unable to tolerate even the lightest touch.