Your guide to Shingles  

September 18, 2023

Shingles is an infection that causes a painful rash. 

More information on Shingles is available from the NHS here 

What are the symptoms of Shingles?  

The first signs of shingles can be: 

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin 
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell 

A rash will appear a few days later. 

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals. 

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles. 

How can I get advice if I think I’ve got Shingles? 

You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems. 

This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting. 

Contact NHS 111 for advice and support. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one. Go to or call 111. 

Stay away from certain groups of people if you have shingles 

You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you. 

This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus. 

Try to avoid: 

  • pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before 
  • people with a weakened immune system – like someone having chemotherapy 
  • babies less than 1 month old – unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system 

How to treat shingles symptoms yourself 


  • take paracetamol to ease pain 
  • keep the rash clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection 
  • wear loose-fitting clothing 
  • use a cool compress (a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel or a wet cloth) a few times a day 


  • let dressings or plasters stick to the rash 
  • use antibiotic cream – this slows healing 

It can take up to 4 weeks for the rash to heal. 

Your skin can be painful for weeks after the rash has gone, but it usually gets better over time. 

How can I get vaccinated against Shingles? 

There is a vaccine to help reduce your risk of getting shingles. 

If you get shingles after being vaccinated, the symptoms can be much milder. 

A shingles vaccine is available on the NHS for: 

  • people who turned 65 on or after 1 September 2023 
  • people aged 70 to 79 
  • people aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system 

Ask your GP surgery if you can get the vaccine. 


Further help and support 

For help navigating health and social care services please contact our free and independent Information and Signposting Service. 

Contact us by: 

Telephone: 0333 101 4007 Monday – Friday (10am-2pm) 

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