What is Shingles? - PIH Health

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Published on February 12, 2021

What is Shingles?

Photo of skin affected by Shingles

Photo of skin affected by ShinglesShingles is a common infection of the nerves that is caused by a virus. Shingles triggers a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin. It can appear anywhere on the body, but it typically appears on only one side of the face or body. Burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching are early signs of the infection. After the rash is gone, the pain usually resolves. But it can continue for months, even years. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.

What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves for many years. Shingles is more common in people with a weak immune system and in people over age 50. The risk goes up with each decade of life after that.

Studies show that one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles. Due to this, the CDC recommended that everyone 50 and older get the shingles vaccine. Ask your primary care physician, or visit one of the PIH Health pharmacies for your shingles vaccine.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, or pain in the area of the skin before the rash appears
  • Rash, which typically appears 1 to 5 days after symptoms start. At first, the rash looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
  • Blisters typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks.

Other early symptoms of shingles may include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Feeling ill
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache

The symptoms of shingles may look like other health conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Visit one of the PIH Health pharmacies in Santa Fe Springs or Whittier for your shingles vaccine today!

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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