Shingles

Check if you have shingles

The first sign of shingles can be:

It may be a few days before the rash appears.

shingles rash
The shingles rash appears as red blotches on your skin, on one side of your body only. If the rash is on both the left and right of your body, it’s unlikely to be shingles.
itchy blisters
The blotches become itchy blisters which ooze fluid. A few days later the blisters dry out and scab.
rash forming a band
The rash can form a band that only appears on one side of your body.

It’s most common on your chest and tummy but can appear on your face, eyes and genitals.

When to see your GP

Speak to your GP if you suspect shingles, particularly if:

Book a GP appointment

Your GP may prescribe you antiviral tablets. They should be taken within 72 hours of your rash appearing.

Antiviral tablets can:

You can buy painkillers to ease shingles pain.

It can take up to 4 weeks for the rash to heal. Pain can stay for weeks after the rash has gone, but it usually settles in time.

There are things you can do ease your symptoms

Do

Don’t

Stay away from certain groups of people if you have shingles

Chickenpox can be dangerous for certain groups of people, so try to avoid:

Stay off work or school until the rash scabs

Shingles is contagious only while the rash oozes fluid. If the rash is covered (with clothes), there’s little risk of passing the infection on to others.

You can’t get shingles from chickenpox

Shingles is only contagious while the rash oozes fluid.

You can’t get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

However, you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles, if you haven’t had chickenpox before.

Shingles and pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and get shingles, there is no danger to your pregnancy or baby.

If your GP thinks you need medicine, they may speak to a specialist to decide whether the benefits of medication outweigh any possible risk.