What does skin shingles look like?

Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Cristina Ivan

Shingles is a skin condition that causes painful blisters and skin rashes. An estimated 1 million people a year have an active shingles episode. The virus that causes shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox and can lie dormant or become active.

Redness and Swelling

When the shingles virus first becomes active, an affected person will see redness and swelling at the same spot where he feels pain.


Clusters of blisters will appear at the site of the previous redness and swelling. These blister clusters may be filled with a clear fluid that looks like pus. The blisters will continue to form for approximately five days and could form into a band or appear in patches.


A rash usually occurs at the site of the redness. The rash can appear due to the individual touching or scratching the area, or it can be caused by skin irritation.

Affected Area

Shingles usually appears on only one side of the body. This is because the nerves that are affected by the virus affect one side of the body.


Usually, after being active for 14 days, the blisters will fill with pus and form scabs. Once scabs form, the virus is no longer active. When the scabs heal, the skin will be discoloured.