Shingles is a herpes virus called herpes zoster. It's only conctractable if you've had chicken pox at some point in your life, because that virus lays dormant for years until your immune system is no longer competent enough to suppress it, at which point it manifests as shingles. Shingles lives on certain nerve branches that originate from the spine and then wind around your body in an orange-peel fashion. These areas are called dermatomes. The most common areas to be affected are on one half of the upper face up to the forehead and scalp around the ear, the sides from back around to the ribcage, tailbone area, and buttocks. There is redness and small very painful rash-like blisters in the affected area lasting for weeks. Dr.s then prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir and famvir to help the body restrain the virus. The pain in these areas that is present even after the blisters are gone is called post-herpetic neuralgia and can last for months or even years. The best way to avoid this scenario is to keep your immune system in top form and see a doctor if you have any symptoms that resemble shingles right away.