Slideshows Images Quizzes
font size

Shingles and Pregnancy

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Shingles in pregnancy facts

  • Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that results from reactivation of infection with the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the virus that causes chickenpox.
  • The rash of shingles can be extremely painful and typically occurs over the area of one nerve.
  • Antiviral medications are used to treat shingles. These drugs are safe to use in pregnancy.
  • Other medications to manage shingles can include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) for pain relief or antihistamines for itching.
  • Complications from shingles occur most often in older adults and are less common in pregnant women.
  • Shingles in pregnancy typically heals without long-term problems for mother or baby.

What is shingles?

Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by reactivation of prior infection with the same virus that previously caused chickenpox, known as varicella zoster virus (VZV). VZV belongs to the herpes family of viruses, but it is not the same virus that causes genital herpes or cold sores on the mouth. When a person is infected with VZV in childhood, they typically develop chickenpox, but after the illness resolves the VZV remains in a dormant state in the nervous system and is never fully cleared from the body. Under certain circumstances, such as emotional stress, immune deficiency (from AIDS or chemotherapy), or with cancer, the virus reactivates and causes the skin and nerve inflammation known as shingles.

Shingles occurs most commonly in people over the age of 60, but anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk, including pregnant women. It has been estimated that up to 1,000,000 cases of shingles occur each year in the U.S.

What do shingles look like?

Picture of Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Picture of Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2016


Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Shingles and Pregnancy Related Articles
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors