- Painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox
Signs and Symptoms
- Usually starts as a painful rash on one side of the face or body
- The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7-10 days and clear up within 2-4 weeks
- 1-5 days before the rash appears, they may be pain, itching, or tingling in the area
- Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach
- If you have had chickenpox, you can get shingles
- After recovering from chickenpox, the virus stays in your body but is inactive. Later in life, this virus can become active again causing shingles
- You cannot transmit shingles person to person
- However, the fluid from the shingles rash blisters can be transmitted to another person and cause chickenpox if they have never had chickenpox before
- Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox, and there is low risk of transmission if the rash is covered
- Several antiviral medications are available from your doctor to treat shingles.
- Analgesics (pain medicine) may help relieve the pain caused by shingles.
- Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching.
- If you have shingles, you should cover the rash and wash your hands often to avoid spreading the virus.
- The most common complication of shingles is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
- People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up.
- This could last for weeks, months, or years
- The only way to prevent shingles is to get the Zostavax vaccine
- People aged 50 and over should get the shingles vaccine