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Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that may cause pain, burning, or a tingling sensation on either the left or right side of the body. Several days or weeks later, a band, strip, or small area of rash usually appears in the same area and progresses into blisters, which scab over before clearing up over the next few weeks. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. Itchy blisters that appear after hiking, gardening, or spending time outdoors could be a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac.


The first time someone is exposed to the virus, it causes the widespread, itchy sores known as chickenpox. If you have shingles symptoms, see your health care provider even if you think you've never had chickenpox. Many childhood cases of chickenpox are mild enough to go unnoticed, but the virus can still linger and reactivate.
In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. People older than age 60 are 10 times more likely to get shingles than children under age 10.
This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Prompt treatment can make a case of shingles shorter and milder, while cutting in half the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia.


If the pain is severe or the rash is concentrated near an eye or ear, consult your doctor right away. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash (but not when wearing calamine lotion or other creams.) If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. In a large trial, this vaccine cut the risk of developing shingles in half and reduced the risk of postherpetic neuralgia by 67%. The vaccine won't treat a current outbreak of shingles, but it can prevent future attacks if you have already had shingles.



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