Shingles: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Jakarta, CNN Indonesia

Shingles is often also referred to as smallpox fire or shingles. Disease this is caused by a virus Varicella-zoster (VZV), which is also a cause of chickenpox.

People who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles in adulthood. The reason is, the same virus remains in nerve fibers (neurotropics) in an inactive state. The virus can reactivate if the immune system decreases or there is direct contact with a patient with shingles.

Dermatology and Venereology Specialist, Anthony Handoko said, all diseases caused by viruses can heal on their own (self limiting disease), including shingles. However, it is better for shingles patients to see a doctor immediately so that they do not develop severe symptoms when exposed to the disease.

In order not to mistakenly treat it, it helps to get to know the ins and outs of shingles, starting from the causes, symptoms, to treatment.

Causes and Means of Transmission

As previously explained, shingles is caused by a viral infection similar to chickenpox.

Handoko said that people who have had chickenpox have the virus Varicella-zoster which resides in nerve cells. This virus can reactivate under certain conditions, such as when the body’s immune system is weakened, or when it comes in direct contact with a patient with shingles.

“The mode of transmission can also be if someone who has had chickenpox directly touches a skin lesion affected by shingles,” Handoko said in a webinar “What if you have Shingles during the Covid-19 Pandemic?”, Thursday (8/4).

In addition, just like Covid-19, shingles can also be transmitted through droplets. Therefore, people who have shingles should undergo isolation for 3-10 days until the virus is completely inactive in the body.

The virus incubation period usually lasts 10-21 days. During incubation, the body’s immune system will form immunity against the virus. Although it can heal on its own, the speed of healing will depend on the strength of the body’s immune system against the virus.


Quoting Hello Sehat, the most common initial symptom of shingles is pain at one point or spreading to several parts.

In addition, there are also some other early symptoms such as headache, fever, feeling unwell, and a rash on the skin.

Handoko explained that the pain in herpes zoster patients is caused by a virus that previously slept back to be active. Pain symptoms generally appear around the occupied nerve fibers.

Within 2-3 days after initial symptoms, a rash will appear and a red, hot, itchy, fluid-filled blister. This elasticity usually only exists in one part of the body, such as the right / left leg, right / left shoulder, right / left abdomen, even the face of the eye or ear area.

“Symptoms that arise are not all over the body, but depend on where the nerve is occupied by the virus. It can be in the eye, ear, shoulder, chest or waist area, and usually only half, not in both parts,” Handoko said.

Symptoms that arise without doctor treatment can improve after 2-3 weeks. However, you should immediately consult a doctor as early as possible to reduce pain or burning sensation caused by this disease.

Shingles: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention


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