Shingles, or herpes zoster, is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus can lie dormant in the body for many years and re-emerge as shingles, usually in a line on one side of the body. Shingles appear as a painful rash. It consists of red patches of skin with small blisters (vesicles) that look very similar to early chickenpox. Shingles usually clears in 2 to 3 weeks. But pain (post-herpetic neuralgia) may last for months or years.
Review Date: 1/25/2013
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.