Shingles

  • Alternative Names

    Herpes zoster


    Symptoms

    The first symptom is usually one-sided pain, tingling, or burning. The pain and burning may be severe and is usually present before any rash appears.

    Red patches on the skin, followed by small blisters, form in most people.

    • The blisters break, forming small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts. The crusts fall off in 2 to 3 weeks. Scarring is rare.
    • The rash usually involves a narrow area from the spine around to the front of the belly area or chest.
    • The rash may involve face, eyes, mouth, and ears.

    Additional symptoms may include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Chills
    • Difficulty moving some of the muscles in the face
    • Drooping eyelid (ptosis)
    • Fever and chills
    • General ill-feeling
    • Genital lesions
    • Headache
    • Hearing loss
    • Joint pain
    • Loss of eye motion
    • Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
    • Taste problems
    • Vision problems

    You may also have pain, muscle weakness, and a rash involving different parts of your face if shingles affects a nerve in your face. See: Ramsay Hunt syndrome


    Signs and tests

    Your doctor can make the diagnosis by looking at your skin and asking questions about your medical history.

    Tests are rarely needed, but may include taking a skin sample to see if the skin is infected with the virus that causes shingles.

    Blood tests may show an increase in white blood cells and antibodies to the chickenpox virus but cannot confirm that the rash is due to shingles.