Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is also responsible for chicken pox. The most common location for shingles is a band, called a dermatome, spanning one side of the trunk around the waistline. This does not usually affect other areas except for that specific dermatome which is supplied by the nerve fibbers where the virus has remained dormant. This is also true with your bed covers spreading the virus to other parts of your body.
The severity and duration of an attack of shingles can be significantly reduced by immediate treatment with antiviral drugs, which include acyclovir, valcyclovir, or famcyclovir. Antiviral drugs may also prevent the reduce or prevent painful after-effects of shingles known as postherpetic neuralgia.
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