There are a number of known risks for developing shingles, an infection that afflicts roughly one million individuals within the United States each year. Anyone who has experienced a bout with shingles is all too familiar with the characteristic painful and blistering skin rash that spreads along a nerve zone anywhere on the body. The condition is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Therefore, anyone who has had the chickenpox virus is left with the varicella zoster virus that remains in a dormant state within the nerve cells. This is a required predisposing factor for these individuals to experience a shingles attack in the future. There are several other shingles causes that contribute to one's susceptibility to an outbreak, and there is one preventative measure to avert it.
Individuals over the age of 50 have a steadily increasing risk of experiencing a shingles outbreak as the body's propensity for fighting off infection declines through the natural aging process.
Women who are afflicted with the chicken pox during pregnancy pass along a heightened risk to their infant for developing shingles during the first two years of life. Children who experience a bout of chicken pox during their first year of life are more likely to experience shingles before they reach adulthood.
Ethnicity and gender also play a role in the risk for shingles. African-American individuals are less likely to experience shingles than white Caucasians. Some studies have also shown an increased incidence of shingles among women.
Conditions that result in compromised immunity are shingles causes. Some of these illnesses include:
The forms of cancer that pose the highest risk include leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease. Childhood cancer survivors are predisposed to experience a bout with shingles during adulthood.
During periods of extreme emotional or physical stress, the body's resistance is compromised. Such stressful life occurrences as the death of a loved one can trigger a shingles outbreak at any point in time within six months following the event.
There are a number of treatments and medications that can increase one's likelihood of a shingles attack. Some of these include:
Shingles can range from mild to severe, with the more severe variations posing additional health risks. Some of these potential complications include the following:
Vaccination is the most proactive method for reducing the risk of developing shingles and these potentially dangerous complications.