1. infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus,
  2. Shingles may also be referred to as herpes zoster


  1. burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area
  2. a feeling of being generally unwell
  3. a high temperature (fever)
  4. red patches
  5. fluid-filled blisters that break easily
  6. a rash that wraps around from the spine to the torso
  7. a rash on the face and ears
  8. itching


  1. chemotherapy medication
  2. bonemarrow/organ transplant
  3. HIV
  4. physical and emotional stress
  5. old age

Risk Factors

  • being 60 or older
  • having had chickenpox before the age of 1
  • having diseases that weaken the immune system, such as HIV, AIDS, or cancer
  • having had chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • taking drugs that weaken the immune system, such as steroids or medications given after an organ transplant

Diagnostic Tests

  • physical examination of rashes and blisters
  • examination in the lab


  • anti-viral medications to reduce pain and speed recovery, including acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir
  • anti-inflammation drugs to ease pain and swelling
  • narcotic medications or analgesics to reduce pain
  • anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants to treat prolonged pain
  • antihistamines to treat itching, such as Benadryl
  • numbing creams, gels, or patches to reduce pain, such as lidocaine
  • Zostrix cream, which can help reduce the risk of a nerve pain called “postherpetic neuralgia” that occurs after recovery from shingles


  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Capsaicin cream
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • Numbing agents, such as lidocaine, delivered via a cream, gel, spray or skin patch
  • Medications that contain narcotics, such as codeine
  • An injection including corticosteroids and local anesthetics
  • paracetamol/ibuprofen

Lifestyle Management

  • chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
  • shingles (varicella-zoster) vaccine
  • If you have shingles, avoid:

  • women who are pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you – this may harm their unborn baby
    people who have a weak immune system – such as someone with HIV or AIDS
  • babies less than one month old – unless it’s your own baby, in which case your baby should have proteins that fight infection (antibodies) to protect them from the virus