The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Shingles occurs when this virus ‘reawakens’ in the body after having been dormant for years. In some people this virus can lay dormant for their entire lives, in others, however, it can flare up from time to time, and not result in another case of chickenpox, but rather shingles. Research is still being conducted to figure out why this happens.
The process of shingles development is as follows:
- First, you will become infected with chickenpox, usually if you have not been vaccinated against it. Once you have had chickenpox you cannot get it again. Infection occurs when you are exposed to someone with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the cause of both chickenpox and shingles.
- The virus will lay dormant in your system for years after the chickenpox infection.
- When and if the virus reactivates, you will get shingles.
- Your infection can be spread to others if they have not had chickenpox before, they, therefore, stand the risk of infection through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. However, they will get chickenpox and not shingles as chickenpox is the primary infection caused by the virus.