Written for Mediaplanet‘s Dermatology campaign.
Published online and in print inside the National Post, September 12, 2015.
Chicken pox is a common concern for children, but the virus behind this disease does not disappear along with its characteristic red spots. Instead, the varicella zoster virus can reactivate later in life as a painful rash called shingles.
“The virus sits in the nerve cells, so once the shingles are activated from this chicken pox virus, the nerve cells become inflamed,” says Dr. Anatoli Freiman, Dermatologist and Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre. “That’s why it’s extremely, sometimes excruciatingly painful.”
Approximately nine out of ten adults in Canada have had chicken pox and are therefore at risk for developing shingles. In Canada, an estimated 130,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.