Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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Shingles Vaccine

Zoster Shingles Vaccine Side Effects

The most common adverse effects are:

  • headaches,
  • injection site swelling,
  • itching,
  • swelling,
  • pain,
  • warmth,
  • bleeding, and
  • bruising.

Some individuals may experience shingles or chickenpox-like rashes within 42 days after receiving zoster vaccine. Transmission of VZV virus from vaccinated individuals to other individuals occurs rarely.

Quick GuideShingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

Shingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

Shingles (herpes zoster) facts

  • Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash.
  • Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
  • Older adults and individuals with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk for developing shingles.
  • Shingles symptoms and signs include
  • Shingles is most often diagnosed by your doctor solely based on the appearance of the characteristic rash.
  • Shingles can be treated with antiviral medication and pain medication.
  • The prognosis for shingles is generally favorable, though some individuals can experience complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia, which is persistent nerve pain after the rash disappears.
  • There is a vaccine available to help prevent shingles for certain individuals.

What is shingles? What does shingles look like?

Shingles is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, or simply zoster. There are approximately 1 million estimated cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles is more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems.

Pictures of shingles (herpes zoster) on the face
What does shingles look like?

The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path called a dermatome, affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline (to the other side). The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015
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