Shingles: Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is an infection that causes a painful rash and you should get medical advice as soon as possible if you think you have it. Call 0207 099 5555 now to speak to one of our team and book a private GP appointment at MyHealthcare Clinic in Fulham, Wandsworth, or Wimpole Street, Central London.

Shingles symptoms

The first signs of shingles can be:

·      A tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin

·      A headache or generally feeling unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your tummy and chest, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, your eyes and your genitals.

What does shingles look like?

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and the right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

How to treat shingles symptoms yourself


·      Take paracetamol to ease pain

·      Keep the rash clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection

·      Wear loose-fitting clothing

·      Use a cool compress (a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel or a wet cloth) a few times a day


·      Do not let dressings or plasters stick to the rash

·      Do not use antibiotic cream – this slows healing

How long shingles lasts

It can take up to 4 weeks for a shingles rash to heal.

Your skin can be painful for weeks after the rash has gone, but it usually gets better over time.

Is shingles contagious?

Stay away from certain groups of people if you have shingles

You cannot spread shingles to others, but people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you if you have shingles.  This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.

Try to avoid:

·      Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox before

·      People with a weakened immune system – like someone having chemotherapy

·      New born babies less than 1 month old – unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system

Work and school

Stay off work or school if the rash is still oozing fluid (weeping) and cannot be covered, or until the rash has dried out.

You can only spread the infection to other people while the rash oozes fluid.

You can cover the rash with loose clothing or a non-sticky dressing.

Shingles and pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and get shingles, there’s no danger to your pregnancy or baby, but you should be referred to a specialist, as you may need antiviral treatment.

You cannot get shingles from someone with chickenpox.

You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

However, you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.

When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.

This can be due to stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.