The cause of shingles is the chickenpox virus which can lie dormant at the root of a nerve for many years, long after the patient has forgotten even having the disease. Shingles can be reactivated by stress, or sometimes by contact with a child who has chickenpox. A red, blistered skin rash preceded by intense, searing pain can affect any part of the body, including the eyes. The rash sometimes forms a semicircle around the waist, giving rise to the old belief that if the spots meet in the middle, the victim is doomed. Painful and unpleasant though shingles can be, it is not fatal. The medical name, Herpes Zoster, comes from the Greek words herpes (to creep), and zoster (girdle).

Shingles blisters usually heal quite quickly, but the nerve pain can go on for months. If the facial nerve is affected, the face may be temporarily paralysed, and if the optic nerve is affected, the cornea can be seriously damaged, endangering the sight. See a doctor as soon as possible if shingles affects the area near the eyes.

In Chinese Medicine , it will probably be diagnosed as heat and damp in the gall bladder and the liver channels. Chinese Herbal medicine, including oriental wormwood and Chinese gentian, is usually effective.

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