Herpes zoster (shingles) is a painful viral illness that manifests as a rash or blisters on the skin. This disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. Rash symptoms often manifest as a band of redness, itching, and blistering on one part of the body.

Although the symptoms of childhood chickenpox eventually disappear, the varicella-zoster virus is never completely eliminated from the human body. In some instances, the virus reactivates in adulthood. 


Signs of shingles’ early stages may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Worn out and exhausted
  • Light sensitivity
  • Upset stomach

Other symptoms that manifest a few days after the onset of the first symptoms include:

  • A sensation of itching, burning, or tingling on a specific region of skin.
  • Skin redness in the afflicted region.
  • Localized cutaneous rash with raised bumps.
  • Blisters that are fluid-filled and scab over.
  • Mild to severe discomfort in the afflicted skin region.


The spread of the rash is a telltale sign of Herpes zoster. A rash caused by shingles often manifests as a band of blisters along one side of the body. Blister fluid or scrapings from the skin might be sent to a lab to confirm a shingles diagnosis.


Herpes zoster has no cure, although there are medications to manage the symptoms.

Antiviral medications

These medications may alleviate pain and shorten the duration of the symptoms, especially if used within 72 hours after the onset of shingles. They may also aid in the prevention of discomfort that might occur months or years later. Among these drugs are:

  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex®).
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax®).
  • Famciclovir (Famvir®).

Over-the-counter pain relievers

These drugs may be beneficial in alleviating pain and include the following:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®).

These treatments work best if begun quickly after the first signs of the rash develop.

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