What you need to know about shingles

Understanding shingles

Shingles is a painful, itchy skin rash that usually appears on the chest, but can also affect the trunk, back, legs or face.

Shingles usually occurs in people aged over 50 years and is four times more common in those over 70 years of age. It’s caused by the same virus (varicella zoster) that causes chickenpox.

Symptoms of shingles include pain and itching on the chest, trunk, back, legs or face that can turn into a ‘belt’ of small blisters, usually on only one side of the body. You may also experience headaches and fever.

See your doctor as soon as you think you may have shingles – within 48-72 hours of the rash first appearing.

They may prescribe an antiviral medication, depending on your age, how long since the rash started and how badly you are affected. They will also decide what strength of pain relief is suitable for you as an individual – this depends on what other health conditions you may have.

It’s important to take your medication to reduce the severity of shingles and the risk of lasting problems. Your local Life Pharmacist will be happy to discuss the medication you’ve been prescribed and advise you on products that can help prevent any scarring.

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