Shingles: Symptoms & Signs

  • 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.

Shingles typically causes painful skin bumps or blisters. Even before the skin lesions appear, the pain of shingles can be severe. The skin pain is often described as a burning sensation of the skin with heightened sensitivity. The rash of shingles consists of red blisters that eventually burst and ooze. The rash occurs in a band-like distribution along the path of a nerve. The blisters eventually crust over (form a scab) and heal. Sometimes, symptoms like chills, diarrhea, and headache can occur as a person develops shingles. The nearby lymph nodes may be swollen.

Cause of shingles

Shingles is caused by a reactivation of an infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV, also referred to as the herpes zoster virus) that causes chickenpox.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2017

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