What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful, blister-like rash caused by the chicken pox virus. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles.

Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles at any age.

Almost one out of every three people in the U.S. will develop shingles in their lifetime. There are an estimated one million cases of shingles each year in the U.S.

What are the early signs and symptoms of shingles?

Burning, tingling, or numbness of the skin are the first signs of shingles and can occur one to five days before the physical rash or blister appears. You may also experience fever, headache, and upset stomach.

Next, a painful rash with blisters will develop in the same area as the previous burning/tingling sensation. The blisters will typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks.

Most Common Places for a Shingles Rash to Develop

Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. In rare cases (usually among people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread and look similar to a chickenpox rash.

Phases of Shingles

Vesicle Formation (3-4 days)

Formation of small circular vesicle with clear fluid

Pustulation (1 week)

Vesicles develop into pustules which contain pus instead of clear fluid

Crusting (2-3 weeks)

Development of Scabbing

Healing (3-4 weeks)

Crust (Scabs) fall off and healing begins

Learn about the Valnivudine™ (formerly FV-100) Trial

A new clinical trial is seeking participants to test an investigational drug that is designed for the pain associated with shingles, known as post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN.

Shingles Resources

The resources were selected based on their ability to provide clear, up-to-date, accessible information that may better inform patient decision-making.

Find Out if You May be Eligible to Participate in the Valnivudine™ Clinical Trial

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, can affect anyone who has recovered from chickenpox at any age. It is important for people of all ages to visit their doctor promptly if they have symptoms they think may indicate shingles.

Dr. Stephen K. Tyring, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatologist and Virologist