What is Shingles?

Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful rash with blisters. It is caused by reactivation of the chicken pox virus (varicella zoster). The rash occurs on one side of the body or face, affecting a small area. The disease is common among older people or those with a weaker immune system (due to stress, injury, illness, or a high dose of medication). It subsides on its own in a few days, and is treatable.

As per a report, hospitals in India record more than 1 million cases of shingles every year.


Early symptoms of the disease are fever and weakness. Other common symptoms may include:

  • Pain, burning, or itching in the affected area
  • Sudden appearance of a rash
  • A pink or red patch on one side of the body or face (clustered along the nerve path)
  • Shooting pain in the affected area
  • Fluid-filled blisters which are itchy and painful


The most probable causes of this disease are:

  • The virus varicella zoster
  • Skin rash with blisters that are painful, itchy, and filled with fluid
  • Weakened immune system
  • Certain medicines may also trigger the activation of the virus


The following factors increases the risk of getting shingles:

  • People older than 50 years of age.
  • Early episode or history of chickenpox.
  • A weak immune system.
  • Stress and trauma.
  • If a pregnant woman has chickenpox, the chances of the baby developing shingles is high


In order to prevent the occurrence of this disease, one should take care of the following:

  • Keeping the rash always covered.
  • Frequently washing the hands.
  • Avoiding contact with people who have weakened immune system

How is it diagnosed?

Shingles is easily diagnosable by examination of the affected area. At Medanta, our doctors may recommend: 


How is it treated?

There is no specific treatment for shingles. However, early treatment will speed up healing, provide relief, and reduce risk of complications. At Medanta, the various medications for treatment may include: 


  • Possible medications

    They include acyclovir or zovirax, valtrex, and famciclovir or famvir. Although, it is important to be cautious, but any antiviral medication can be used safely during pregnancy. Antihistamines can even reduce itching, and acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain.
    The doctor may also prescribe capsaicin cream, anticonvulsants, numbing creams or gels, and antidepressants.
    Shingles takes 2 to 6 weeks to subside, and occurs only once.

When do I contact the doctor?

Early treatment and medical consultation is a must if you feel you have shingles. A shingle/ rash near the eye or nose can spread and cause permanent vision damage. All the symptoms of your disease will be treated just right with the medical help of our experts at Medanta. 

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How does Medanta provide care?


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