How Is the Shingles Virus Transmitted?

Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD

Photo Courtesy: [BSIP/UIG/Getty Images]

Shingles is an extremely painful, localized skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus —  the same virus that causes chickenpox. The defining characteristic of shingles is that it arises years, sometimes decades, after an initial chickenpox infection. Anyone who has had chickenpox or the immunization for chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles, as the virus lays dormant in the nervous system and can reactivate years later.