Shingles and Pregnancy

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Quick GuideShingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

Shingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?

The hallmark symptom of shingles is a painful, blistering rash. Pain from shingles may be severe in intensity. The pain, or a tingling sensation in some cases, may precede the development of the actual rash, making the cause of the pain hard to ascertain. Small blisters form on a red base, and new blisters continue to appear for 3 to 5 days. The rash follows the path of individual nerves, and typically presents in a band-like pattern on one side of the body. After the blisters rupture, they begin to crust over and heal. The entire outbreak from onset to healing takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Fever, headache, chills, and nausea can sometimes accompany the painful skin rash.

How is shingles diagnosed?

The characteristic rash of shingles typically suggests the diagnosis, and in most cases, no specific diagnostic tests are required. In cases in which there is pain but no apparent rash, the diagnosis can be very difficult. Laboratory testing to detect the genetic material or surface proteins of the VZV can be used in atypical or difficult cases.

What is the treatment for shingles in pregnancy?

Treatment for shingles is generally prescription or over-the-counter antiviral, pain, and antihistamine medication.

Antiviral medication to treat shingles

The prescription antiviral medications typically used to treat shingles are safe to take during pregnancy. These drugs include acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir). Antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of the rash if started early (within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2015
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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Symptoms and Diagnosis

    Please describe the symptoms that led to a diagnosis of shingles while you were pregnant.

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Treatment

    How did you treat shingles pain and itching during your pregnancy?

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Prevention

    How did you prevent the risk of shingles during your pregnancy?

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Experience

    Please describe your experience with shingles during pregnancy.

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Antiviral Medication

    If you were prescribed antiviral medication for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Pain Medication

    If you were prescribed pain medication for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Antihistamines

    If you were prescribed antihistamines for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?

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  • Shingles and Pregnancy - Complications

    What complications did you experience with shingles during pregnancy?

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