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This is the excruciating aftermath of an adult’s bout with shingles — or herpes zoster, the same virus that causes chicken-pox in children. The virus appears to lie dormant in a nerve root for decades in some people and later appears, sometimes in response to stress or to physical upset.

This infection also produces rashes on the skin similar to chick-enpox. It also severely damages the entire nervous system from the skin right through to the brain along the affected nerve pathways.

In some the onset of the rash is preceded by severe pain. This sometimes persists after the rash leaves. Because the nerve fibres damaged in this condition are usually the thick coated fibres, the pain ‘gate’ is left open, so to speak, in the nervous system and pain messages are sent either unmodified or in an abnormally modified way to the brain.


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