VZV re-activation

Varicella Zoster Virus Re-Activation: What You Need To Know

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is an extremely contagious virus known to cause two very distinct illnesses: chicken pox and shingles. Chicken pox is the initial infection that may cause a characteristic rash, fever, and other symptoms. After the initial infection is over, VZV stays dormant in your body and can re-activate at any time, causing shingles. Here is an overview of what you need to know about VZV reactivation:

What is VZV Reactivation?

VZV is a member of the herpes virus family, and it is highly contagious. After the initial infection, it does not go away; it remains dormant in your body, which means it can reactivate at any time. When VZV reactivates, it causes shingles – a condition characterized by a band of painful, itchy blisters that usually appears on one side of your body.

Who is at Risk for VZV Reactivation?

Anyone who has had chicken pox is at risk for VZV reactivation. Although it is uncommon to experience shingles in childhood, it is not unheard of. People over the age of 50 are especially at risk, as are immunocompromised individuals, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or who have HIV/AIDS.

What Are the Symptoms of VZV Reactivation?

The symptoms of VZV reactivation are often milder than when you first contracted chicken pox. The main symptom of VZV reactivation is usually a band of blisters that appear on one side of the body. Along with the rash, you may also experience:

  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Light sensitivity

How Is VZV Reactivation Treated?

The treatment for VZV reactivation depends on the severity of the symptoms. Generally speaking, antiviral medications are prescribed to reduce the severity and duration of the infection. Some of the most common antiviral medications used to treat VZV reactivation include: acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. In more serious cases, steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Additionally, over-the-counter pain medications can be taken to reduce pain and itching. It is important to consult a doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

How Can VZV Reactivation Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent VZV reactivation is to get vaccinated against chicken pox. However, if you have already been infected, you will need to take precautions to reduce your risk of infection. This includes avoiding contact with people who are sick, washing your hands often, and avoiding touching your eyes and nose (which can spread the virus). It is also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of VZV reactivation so that you can seek medical attention as soon as possible.


VZV reactivation can cause serious complications if left untreated. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of VZV reactivation and to take steps to reduce your risk of infection. If you suspect that you are experiencing a VZV reactivation, it is important to seek medical attention right away.