This is an NHS-funded service available for adults aged 18 and over.
What is Shingles and is Shingles contagious?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it.
It’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
If you have had chickenpox, you usually develop antibodies to the infection so become less likely to catch it again.
But the virus that causes chickenpox stays inactive in your body’s nerve tissues. This can come back later in life as shingles.
It’s possible to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles, but not the other way around. You are contagious until the last blister has dried and scabbed over.
What are the symptoms of Shingles?
The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters. The Shingles rash generally appears on one side of your body in an area of skin related to the affected nerve.
A few days after appearing, the blisters become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out before becoming scabs.
The pain caused by shingles is a localised band of pain. It may be a constant, burning or dull pain. Its intensity can vary from mild to severe and may feel like sharp stabbing pains.
Sometimes other symptoms begin before the painful rash, including:
- A headache
- Burning, tingling, itchiness or numbness of the skin in the affected area
- A high temperature (fever)
- Feeling generally unwell
When should I seek help?
There is no cure for shingles, but there are treatments that can ease your symptoms.
Shingles symptoms usually get better in two to four weeks, but early treatment may reduce the severity and reduce complications.
How can Peak Pharmacy help?
Our Pharmacists can help people aged 18 and over.
They will ask you about your medical history and other symptoms to exclude other conditions or complications that need urgent referral to your GP or other sources of help.
They may recommend pain relief and products you can buy over the counter.
If you visit the pharmacy within 72 hours of your rash appearing, treatment with antiviral tablets may be considered to be needed. Our Pharmacists can provide this.
What if I am aged under 18?
If you are outside the age range we are unable to offer the service, although our Pharmacists, or members of the Pharmacy Team, can give self-care advice or refer you to your GP as appropriate.
* Our online consultations are carried out by one of our Pharmacists.