Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is the exact same virus that causes chicken pox.  Later in life, after laying dormant (inactive) in the body, the virus may reactivate and cause shingles. Chicken pox is not as common now that a vaccine is given to most children, but shingles may still develop in those that have been vaccinated. This is not the same virus that causes genital herpes.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Painful rash on one side of the body, often in a linear strip. May appear on one side of the face.
  • Tingling and pain may develop before rash appears.
  • Follows the path of a nerve
  • Headache, fever, chills or stomach ache may develop
  • Rash may appear similar to the chicken pox blisters


  • Shingles vaccine is available for people over age 60
  • Shingles can be spread as chicken pox to someone that has not previously had chicken pox. Active shingles will not spread shingles to another person.
  • Keep shingles rash covered to prevent spread
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid touching or scratching rash
  • Avoid contact with pregnant women, low birth weight babies and those with weakened immune systems


  • Prescription antiviral medications from your healthcare provider will help reduce the length of time and severity of the outbreak
  • Over the counter pain relievers for pain management (i.e. acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), Ibuprofen (Motrin))
  • Cool compresses
  • Oatmeal bath
  • Calamine lotion

Visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you develop a painful rash. Treatment with antivirals work best when started early. Shingles that develop on the face pose a danger to the eyes and need immediate medical attention.


CDC- Shingles