Get the Essential Facts.

How Shingles can affect your body.

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Get the Essential Facts.

How Shingles can affect your body.

Shingles can happen to anyone who’s had chickenpox.

After you have chickenpox, the virus that caused it, called varicella-zoster virus, remains in your body. It’s always inside you, lying dormant (asleep) in your nerve cells. At some point later in life, your immune system may weaken, allowing the virus to resurface as Shingles — a red, blistering rash, usually accompanied by deep, penetrating pain. There’s no way to predict if or when you will get Shingles, or how severe your case could be. Here are some more eye-opening Shingles facts:
98% of adults in the
United States have
had chickenpox.
If you’ve had
chickenpox, you’re at
risk for Shingles.
There are
1 million new cases
of Shingles each year
in the United States.
1 in 3 people will
get Shingles during
their lifetime.

Shingles can be a painful, blistering rash that can last up to 30 days.

For those people who experience the initial tingle, burn, itch, or pain, the Shingles rash appears on the skin in the same area. The rash is usually red and blistering and can last up to 30 days. Most often, the rash occurs as a band or strip on a single side of the body. This band follows along a dermatome, which is an area of skin around one side of the body that is affected by one of the nerves from the spine. Shingles usually appears along just one dermatome. Shingles may also appear on a single side of the face, for example, in the area around the eye and the forehead. But Shingles can strike any dermatome of the body.

The Shingles rash can bring severe, stabbing pain.

In many cases, Shingles causes pain. People with Shingles have described the pain as sharp, stabbing, shooting, burning, and throbbing. The pain may be constant or it may come and go.

The rash isn’t always the first sign of Shingles.

Before the rash ever appears on the skin, there may be signs that Shingles is coming. You may feel itching, tingling, burning, or pain in a specific area on one side of your body or face.

Picture Gallery

The Shingles rash usually affects only one of the parts of the body at any one time.

The Shingles rash is not easy to look at, but seeing actual pictures of the Shingles rash may help you understand the impact Shingles can have.

Shingles Complications

Shingles Complications

One in every 4 people who get Shingles will experience 1 or more complications. For some people, Shingles can lead to potentially serious complications. Here are the most common ones:

  • Bacterial Infections

    A Shingles rash can increase your risk for a bacterial infection on the skin.

  • Long-term Pain

    Although the pain of Shingles usually lessens as the rash heals, in some cases the pain can last for months or even years. One in 5 people with Shingles will develop long-term nerve pain, which is called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN. The risk of developing PHN increases as you get older. PHN pain can range from a tender, burning, or throbbing sensation to a stabbing or shooting pain. Or it can cause mild discomfort that lasts for a few months.

  • Permanent Scarring

    Sometimes, in severe cases of Shingles, a person can end up with permanent scarring.

  • Vision Impairment

    Ophthalmic Shingles is a term for Shingles that occurs in or around the eye. People who have it can suffer from painful eye infections and, in some cases, immediate or delayed vision impairment. If you have Shingles in or near your eye, you should see an eye doctor immediately.

  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

    Shingles infections inside or near the ear can cause weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face, as well as hearing and balance problems. This complication is known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

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