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What is Shingles?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues near the spinal cord and brain.

Years later, the virus can reactivate, causing shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles

Shingles typically begins with a tingling, burning, or itching sensation in a specific area of the body, often on one side.

This discomfort is usually followed by the appearance of a red rash, which can develop into fluid-filled blisters. These blisters may break open and crust over, causing pain and irritation.

Other common symptoms of shingles include:

  • Continuous or intermittent pain, ranging from mild to severe
  • Sensitivity to touch or pressure in the affected area
  • Fever, fatigue, and generally feeling unwell
  • Headaches and sensitivity to light

It’s important to note that shingles symptoms can vary from person to person and may be more severe if you have a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions.

What does shingles look like?

The shingles rash commonly appears in a single, defined area of the body, typically following the path of a nerve. This distribution pattern is often described as a band or stripe-like formation and is commonly found on one side of the torso, but it can also occur on the face, neck, or other parts of the body.

Frequently asked questions about shingles

Is shingles painful?

Yes, shingles can be intensely painful. The discomfort varies but often includes burning or stabbing sensations. Consult your pharmacist for diagnosis and treatment.

What happens when you get shingles?

Shingles happens when the chickenpox virus reactivates, causing a painful rash and blisters. Your pharmacist can diagnose and prescribe you treatment. 

Where do you get shingles?

Shingles commonly appear on one side of the torso in a belt-like pattern but can affect other areas. If you think you have shingles, book an online consultation with your pharmacist as soon as possible.

A man's torso with a severe shingles rash down one side

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