Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox. Unlike chicken pox, shingles is not contagious, but lies dormant in your body after you have chicken pox. Characterized by an itchy, painful rash that forms blisters on one side of the body, shingles can cause severe complications, such as changes in vision and hearing, or pain lasting up to several years after the shingles rash is gone. Most people that have shingles have compromised immunity, or are over the age of 50, although 20% of the population will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Certain antiviral medications can slow down the virus and offer pain relief, although no cure exists for shingles. If you are over 60 years old, talk to your doctor about the possibility of being vaccinated for shingles.