Shingles (herpes zoster) appears as a painful, blistering skin rash triggered by a form of previously dormant varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

The rash can last for two weeks and eventually crusts over, but nerve pain can persist. Shingles is treated with antiviral drugs that are most effective when used within three days of the rash's appearance.

Additional therapies may treat ongoing pain. But the best treatment is prevention: Ask your physician for the shingles vaccine if you're over 60.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 29 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 29 Jul 2013