Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus, with its primary characteristic being blisters and rashes which are usually limited to one side of the body. These blisters and rashes usually appear in stripes or patches. Patients may also experience headaches, fatigue, and a general malaise, which makes diagnosis difficult prior to the onset of skin symptoms. As it is a viral condition, shingles cannot be cured, and individuals infected with the herpes zoster virus remain infected for the duration of their lives. However, the primary symptoms can be treated with painkillers, topical steroids and antiviral drugs. In most cases, the condition subsides in three to five weeks.

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