Shingles is a painful rash caused by an infection of a nerve. It is a reactivation of chickenpox virus. However, the spots do not appear everywhere like chickenpox. They are only on the affected area. Usually, it will be on one side of the body.

  • Most common in people over the age of 50 years
  • It can occur at any age

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Shingles is also referred to as Herpes Zoster. It is a viral infection which results in the outbreak of a painful and irritable rash. The virus usually appears in a small area/strip of blisters on one side of a person’s face or body. Although it can develop on any part of the body, you are most likely to see it sprout on either the right or left side of your torso, neck, or face. It can be characterised by a red rash which may bring about a painful burning sensation. Apart from the physically painful symptoms, people can also suffer from:

  • Fever
  • Feeling internally cold
  • Extreme feeling of fatigue
  • Persistent headaches
  • Muscles feel weaker than usual

Most cases will naturally clear within two to three weeks since initial symptoms. It would be very rare for it to ever occur again in the same person, though it is possible. Shingles is most common in older adults and those who have a weak immune system, which could be due to several factors including injury, stress, or even the use of certain medications. Although this condition is completely non-life-threatening, it can cause a lot of pain to anyone living with it. Shingles are not contagious.


Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is the same virus which causes chickenpox. Once someone has had chickenpox, the virus will lie dormant within their nerve tissue which is found in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The virus may eventually reactivate years later. It’ll travel along the nerve pathways till it reaches your skin and comes back as shingles. However, this is not guaranteed to happen as some people who have experienced chickenpox will never end up developing shingles.

In the majority of shingles cases, there is no discernible reason as to why the VZV will begin multiplying again. It may be due to a person’s immunity to infections becoming weaker as they age or due to an incident which happens to weaken it. Although there’s not much scientific backing behind these, some potential triggers include:

  • Naturally growing older
  • Psychological or emotional stress
  • Diseases such as HIV/AIDS as well as certain cancers
  • Forms of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy & radiation therapy
  • Children whose mothers developed chickenpox late in pregnancy or had chickenpox as an infant themselves

Types Of Treatment

There are two main points kept in mind while treating Shingles:

  1. To ease the pain and discomfort caused by Shingles
  2. And to prevent complications from developing

There is no cure for shingles that is currently in existence. However, you can effectively quicken the recovery time, reduce pain and prevent any further complications by promptly turning to using prescription antiviral drugs. We stock only one form of treatment for shingles which we believe to be the most effective and reliable, though we can recommend other methods. These can include:

Antiviral Medications

Antiviral Medicines include aciclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. These reduce the pain and help quicken the duration of shingles. However, they do not kill the virus but stop it from spreading. Antiviral medicine is useful if started early and the normal course lasts for about 7 days.


Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce the pain. If the pain is severe, you may be advised to take an antidepressant or anticonvulsant medicine. Both help ease the nerve pain.


Steroids reduce swelling. A short course may be considered along with antiviral medicines. It reduces the pain and heals the Shingles faster. 

You need to see your doctor as soon as you feel you may have shingles. once you are officially diagnosed, your doctor will begin your course of treatment immediately, typically using antiviral medication. This will decrease the chances of developing problems later. The sooner you start treating yourself, the quicker & less painful the process will be.

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at

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Questions & Answers

How come some people will develop shingles and others won’t?

Shingles only occur when the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) reactivates and causes a recurrent disease. The reason as to why some will end up suffering from shingles and others won’t is still not clearly understood. The risk of you developing this condition will increase as you age. You will also be at increased risk if you suffer from any medical conditions which suppress the proper functionality of the immune system, or those taking immunosuppressive drugs.

Can shingles arise more than once?

Yes, although this is very uncommon. The majority of people who become infected will only experience one bout of shingles in their entire lifetimes. However, it has been documented that second or third occurrences have the potential to happen.

Is shingles contagious?

It is impossible to contract shingles from someone who is infected. However, if you had not yet experienced chickenpox, you could develop the condition through exposure to someone with the VPV.

Is herpes zoster in any related genital herpes or herpes simplex?

No, this is a frequently misconstrued assumption. Although the condition names may seem a little similar, the herpes virus responsible for shingles and chickenpox (VZV) is not the same strain of herpes virus which causes the onset of genital herpes and herpes mouth sores.

If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at

Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at!

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