Skip to main content
Avg ER Wait
Checking ER Wait Time
The feed could not be reached
TriStar Centennial Medical Center

Conditions InDepth: Shingles

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox —the varicella-zoster virus. Even decades after you’ve recovered from chickenpox, inactive copies of the varicella-zoster virus live within your nerves. If these viruses become reactivated, then you develop shingles.

Contact with a person who has shingles could lead to chickenpox in someone who has never had chickenpox and has not received the varicella vaccine.

If you develop shingles, you will probably first notice a burning or tingling pain in a band or line along one side of your face or torso. About three days later, you’ll see a rash appear in the same area. The rash consists of fluid-filled bumps on reddened skin that eventually crust over and begin to dry. It usually takes about five weeks to recover from shingles. Some people take longer to recover and continue to have pain in the area of the rash. This complication, called postherpetic neuralgias, is due to nerve damage.

Herpes Zoster Blisters
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

About 20% of people who have had chickenpox will develop shingles. Most people will have only a single episode of shingles. However, if you have a weakened immune system, then you may have more than one episode.

What are the risk factors for shingles?What are the symptoms of shingles?How is shingles diagnosed?What are the treatments for shingles?Are there screening tests for shingles?How can I reduce my risk of developing shingles?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with shingles?Where can I get more information about shingles?

Revision Information

  • NINDS shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated January 10, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, et al. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8). Available at: Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 20, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.