Shingles (Herpes zoster) is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe. The initial infection is the short-lived illness chickenpox, which generally occurs in children.
Once an episode of chickenpox has resolved, the virus is not eliminated from the body and can go on to cause shingles, often many years after the initial infection.
The virus may spread to one or more nerve paths. Although the rash usually heals within a couple weeks, some sufferers experience nerve pain for months or even years.