Overview of Shingles & Chickenpox

Chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster) are distinct diseases caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The VZV is a herpesvirus.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious rash that usually occurs in childhood. It is the manifestation of a primary infection.

Shingles is usually a localized, unilateral (occurs on one side of the body) eruption that follows a linear pattern along a nerve. Shingles is a reactivation of a dormant varicella-zoster virus.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Sep 2000

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015