medicine bottle iconWhat is shingles?

Posted April 1, 2015

Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by a virus. It is most common in older adults and in people who have weak immune systems.

What causes shingles?

  • Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chicken pox reactivates in your body.
  • The reactivation is triggered by disease, stress or age weakening the immune system.
  • Some medicines can also awaken the virus and cause shingles.
  • Shingles is not contagious.

What are the symptoms?

Shingles symptoms happen gradually. At first you may feel or have:

  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen glands

Later, you may feel itching, tingling, or pain in a certain area.

A few days after this, you may see a band, strip or small area of a rash. The rash then turns into a cluster of blisters.

Additional symptoms you may have at this stage:

  • Feeling dizzy or weak
  • Long-term pain
  • A rash on your face
  • Changes in your vision
  • Changes in how well you can think
  • A rash that spreads

How is shingles treated?

Antiviral and pain medications are common treatments for shingles. See your doctor immediately if you think you may have shingles. Early treatment is important.

Read What is Shingles for more information.

The information written about in this blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek care from a medical professional when you have a health concern.