Pharmacy Corner
Shingles: Protect yourself What is shingles?


Shingles, is an itchy, painful and blistering skin rash caused by a virus. It often occurs on one side of the body, usually on your belly or back. The rash can also occur on the face and if severe may involve the eyes.

With this rash being caused by a virus, you also have a fever and/or chills as your body tries to fight off the infection.

How common is it?

Approximately one out of every three people will get an outbreak of shingles in their lifetime.2

It is estimated that approximately half of all people who live to 85 will experience at least one shingles outbreak in their life.2

What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have the chickenpox, the virus hides in the nervous system. A person gets shingles, when the virus reactivates later in life.

What other things could cause a rash?


Rashes have many causes. Here are some common causes of rashes and how they are different from shingles:

Rash caused by allergies: A common cause of rash is when your skin comes in contact with something you are allergic to. The rash is often on the hands and is not usually painful.

Rash caused by medication: Any medication can cause a rash and these rashes can be quite different depending on the medication and the specific individual. Typically they begin within the first few weeks of taking a medication but sometimes they can occur after you’ve been on it for years. Most drug rashes are widespread over a large area of the body. If you are taking any medications and have an unexplained rash, you should mention it to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Other viruses: Other viruses can cause rash as well, but they are usually widespread over a large area of the body versus just being on a small part of the body.


The pain experienced from shingles can be rather severe in some individuals and may affect day-to-day activities such as walking, sleeping and social activities. A rash accompanied by pain is a major sign of shingles.