Armpit shingles

Updated July 19, 2017

Shingles are a painful skin condition caused by a virus. The condition usually affects the lower back, but can sometimes appear elsewhere, such as the face and the armpit. There are a number of treatments that can be done to combat the pain caused by shingles.


Shingles refers to a painful, blistering rash. Before the rash appears, the sufferer will experience a sensation like tickling, burning or pain. A rash will then begin to appear on the skin. Eventually this will begin to blister. Other symptoms may include fever, joint pain, headaches, hearing loss and swollen glands, among others. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.


The rash caused by shingles becomes blisters that will break and crust. After two to three weeks, the crust will fall off. Shingles very rarely leave scars. Usually the rashes appear on the spine and the lower half of the stomach, and sometimes on the face. Rarely, the rashes appear on the armpits. Because the armpits are always in contact with other skin, shingles that appear here can be particularly painful.


Shingles usually go away without treatment. There are some medications that can be used to speed up the virus and shorten the period of time that it lasts. If the pain of shingles is not too bad, your doctor may decide not to give any medication for the pain. However, as shingles in the armpit can be more painful than other affected areas, your doctor will probably prescribe medication for the pain.


Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to speed up the process of the virus and lessen its duration. Creams, antihistamines to combat itching and pain killers will also be prescribed to deal with the pain of armpit blisters. Pressing a cold, wet towel to the affected area may lessen the irritation and pain caused by the blisters, and the skin should be kept clean. Do not use infected clothing until it has been disinfected by being washed in boiling water.


While shingles usually only last for two or three weeks, they may damage the nerve endings in the affected area. If this happens, then the area may remain painful for months or even years. This condition is called neuralgia. Because of the position of the armpit on the body, the affected area may develop a bacterial infection. For this reason, always keep the skin clean. If the rash on the armpit remains for longer than is usual, consult your doctor.

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About the Author

Alexander Kennard started writing in 2003. He has written music reviews and articles for "The Reflector" at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada, and has been published on He has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Victoria.