Identifying and Managing Shingles
Diagnosing ShinglesBefore making a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms.
A typical case of shingles is easy to diagnose. Your healthcare provider might suspect it if the rash:
- Is on only one side of the body
- Erupts along one of the many nerve paths, called dermatomes, that stem from the spine.
Your healthcare provider can often confirm the diagnosis if you also:
- Experience a sharp, burning pain
- Have had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
- Have blisters that look like chickenpox
- Are elderly.
Treatment for ShinglesThe treatment your healthcare provider recommends will depend on several factors, including the severity of symptoms, when they started, and whether complications occur.
These treatment options may include:
- Antiviral medicines and pain relievers
- Other medicines to treat complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia
- Temporary changes in your lifestyle.
(Click Shingles Treatment to learn more, including how antivirals can help if given early enough.)
Is There a Cure?Just as there is no cure for chickenpox, there is no cure for shingles. There are, however, medicines (known as antivirals) that can shorten the length and severity of the disease. Also, there is a vaccine that can prevent it in the future.
(Click Cure for Shingles or Shingles Vaccine for more information about antivirals and the vaccine.)