Symptoms and Complications
Possible Complications of Shingles
Some people may experience complications. These include:
Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN):
The most common complication of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) which is nerve pain that persists after the shingles rash has healed. PHN typically lasts for three to six months but can persist for longer. It can be more common and more severe in older people than in younger people. After the age of 50 years, about 20% of patients with shingles will develop post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Skin changes such as scarring and changes in pigmentation can occur after a shingles rash has healed.
Secondary infection of the rash can also occur.
Neurological and cardiac problems:
Neurological complications such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and cardiac complications such as stroke and vascular disease (conditions affecting the blood vessels) are rare but can occur as a complication of shingles.
Vision and hearing problems:
In some cases the virus can affect nerves in the face and around the eyes. This can lead to hearing, and vision problems which if left untreated can in rare cases, lead to blindness.
This is not an exhaustive list of complications which can arise from shingles. Please speak to a healthcare professional for more information.
If you’re still unsure about your eligibility or you want to learn more about shingles and the Shingles National Immunisation Programme, speak to your nurse or GP surgery.
Reporting of side effects
If you experience any side effects, talk to your pharmacist, nurse or doctor. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme at https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/. By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of medicines.
- NHS. Shingles. 2021.
- DH Green Book Ch 28a. Shingles. 2023.
- NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Shingles: What are the complications. 2021.
- Gauthier A et al. Epidemiol Infect. 2009; 137: 38-47.