What Does Shingles Look Like?


Shingles is a disease that comes from the same virus as the chickenpox. It’s most commonly associated with painful blisters and unhealthy, red skin that wraps around the torso. In this slideshow, we’ll show you pictures of shingles so you can see what shingles looks like at its different stages as well as some unique cases that fall outside of the norm.

We hope this slideshow of shingles pictures will help you better understand the disease.

Just as a warning, some find images of shingles gross or disturbing. Be aware that you’re looking at pictures of shingles and that may cause some unease.

Now let’s get to answering the question, “What does shingles look like?”

First Symptoms

First Symptoms


At first, shingles doesn’t look a whole lot like anything. The earliest health symptoms of shingles deal more with physical symptoms than anything visual. Tingling, nerve pain, and discomfort are some of the earliest signs of shingles.

A few days after these symptoms appear, a blotchy redness will appear in patches on the skin. It’s common for the pain to center around the rash.

The varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes shingles, is not contagious when the shingles are in this rash form.

Formation of Blisters

Formation of Blisters


Blisters begin to appear on the rash area and start filling with fluid. These blisters are likely to itch. It’s possible that the blisters will spread to the rest of the body and face, but they usually stay around the blotchy red skin. At some point, the blisters will start oozing fluid.

The blister fluid contains a contagious version of the varicella-zoster virus that should be avoided by anyone who is not immunized against either chickenpox of shingles or has an unhealthy immune system. If you come in contact with the fluid, you will not contract shingles. Instead, there is a chance that you will get chickenpox and a smaller chance that you will develop shingles years later. Remember, the varicella-zoster virus is not a shingles virus per say. Rather shingles is a possible consequence of contracting the varicella-zoster virus.

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Scabbing and Crusting

Scabbing and Crusting


The blisters will continue to ooze for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, they will dry up and feel scabby to the touch. As the blisters scab over, it’s possible that the affected skin area will change colors from red to yellow or brown. It’s possible that the nerve pain will lessen, but in some cases, it does not.

When the blisters have stopped leaking completely and have scabbed over, the varicella-zoster virus is again no longer contagious.

The “Belt” of Shingles

The “Belt” of Shingles


It’s common for shingles to appear on the body in what is known as a “belt.” This belt is a band of red skin and blisters that usually goes from the back to the front over the left or right side of the torso. The belt usually appears around half of the rib cage or the waist.

This is the most common way shingles manifests itself.

Ophthalmic Shingles

Ophthalmic Shingles


Sometimes shingles will appear on the head and face. This is known as ophthalmic shingles, and it is usually accompanied by headaches. This kind of shingles most commonly appears around the eye and on the forehead. Other symptoms include redness, inflammation, and a droopy eyelid.

The droopiness is due to facial nerves that are affected by the shingles. It can cause vision problems as well for some people.

How Infection Spreads

Shingles are not contagious. What is contagious is the aforementioned varicella-zoster virus. It is spread when a non-immunized person comes in direct contact with the blister fluid. If they experience a breakout, it will be a breakout of chickenpox, not shingles.

It’s possible that the person who came in contact with the blister fluid may experience shingles years later, but there is no way to know for sure.

Healing Time Frame

Shingles usually heal after 2-4 weeks but, some people experience symptoms long after the shingles rash goes away. In some instances, it’s possible for people to feel lingering symptoms like nerve pain or vision problems. This depends on the type of shingles they’ve experienced.

It’s not common for shingles to appear more than once, but it is possible.


Not everyone who’s ever experienced chickenpox will experience shingles, but it’s not uncommon to experience both either. Try and get the shingles vaccine when you turn 60 to best protect yourself against the varicella-zoster virus.

When you realize you have shingles, you should immediately see a doctor for additional treatment advice. There is no single cure or treatment for shingles, but your doctor can prescribe a variety of medications and treatments to shorten the duration of the disease and alleviate the symptoms as well.

Creams and ointments have been found to help relieve the itching and possible scarring associated with shingles. Emuaid is a great place to start when you’re looking for treatments that offer relief from the symptoms of shingles. Emuaid can help treat other skin health-related diseases and conditions.

Aside from this, keep the rash covered as best as you can, wash your hands frequently and try not to scratch the blisters.

Hopefully, these pictures of shingles have helped you better understand the disease.