A Picture Guide to Shingles

This is a magnification of the herpes-zoster virus, which causes shingles.
This illustration shows the progression of the shingles virus.
Here are examples of shingles blisters and rash.
Varicella and herpes zoster. A. During primary varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection (varicella or chickenpox), virus infects sensory ganglia. B. VZV persists in a latent phase within ganglia for the life of the individual. C. With diminished immune function, VZV reactivates within sensory ganglia, descends through sensory nerves, and replicates in skin.
A man experiences pain on the side of chest and abdomen.
This man has a shingles rash (herpes zoster) of small blisters on his chest and torso.
Once the shingles blisters pop, the area starts to ooze, then crusts over, and heals.
B. The percentage of patients with pain persisting after the onset of the herpes-zoster rash. These data are from the placebo recipients in one large, double-blind treatment study. C. The proportion of patients with postherpetic neuralgia according to age. (From Kost RG, Straus SE: Postherpetic neuralgia: Pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention. N Engl J Med 335:32, 1996, with permission.)
Postherpetic neuralgia is a common complication of shingles and occurs when the nerve pain associated with shingles persists beyond one month, even after the rash is gone.
This child has chickenpox.
Shingles that spreads to the eye may lead to loss of vision.
Photo of shingles on neck.
A doctor discusses shingles treatment options with a patient.
Antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of the shingles rash if started early.
Baths and calamine lotion are a few home treatment options for shingles.
A woman receives the shingles vaccine.
Pregnant women should not receive the shingles vaccine.
A man receives the shingles vaccine.
Photo of pregnant woman with doctor.

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Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Chief Medical Editor on Thursday, May 03, 2012

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