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There is no way to know when shingles will strike - 97% of Australian adults already have the virus that causes shingles.1,2

Are you or your parents over 70 years old? The risk of developing shingles may be increased.

What is shingles?

  • Painful red rash and blisters caused by shingles
    Shingles is typically a painful, blistering skin rash which usually appears as a band or belt on one side of the body. Tender, painful skin signals the start of shingles. The skin then turns red and breaks out in tiny fluid-filled blisters.
  • 97% of adults have the virus that causes shingles within them.1
  • Most people find out about shingles once it’s too late. Shingles can be recognised by an outbreak of a painful rash or blisters on the skin which are isolated to one side of the body.
  • While shingles often resolves without complications, some people may continue to experience ongoing nerve pain for months or even years after the rash has healed. For older Australians, shingles can be serious, as the complications of shingles are more common and more severe with increasing age. A common debilitating complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a form of nerve pain, which is difficult to treat and may persist for months or even years.
Shingles painful rash on face of elderly man
*May not be representative of every patient's experience of shingles.
Shingles painful rash on face of elderly man
Ophthalmic shingles
Shingles painful rash on chest of elderly man
Thoracic shingles
Shingles painful rash on back
Thoracic shingles

What causes shingles?

Shingles painful and blistering rashes
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.3
There are an estimated 120,000 cases of shingles annually in Australia. 1 in 3 adults in Australia are expected to develop shingles at some stage.
There are an estimated 120,000 cases of shingles annually in Australia.4 Almost all Australian adults have the virus that eventually causes shingles.
The risk of shingles
increases with age.4
may develop shingles in their lifetime and the risk of developing shingles increases with age.3-5

Will I get shingles?

Talk to your doctor about government funded prevention options.

Can shingles be treated?

  • There is currently no cure for shingles.
  • Shingles sometimes causes flu like symptoms in the days before the rash appears.
    Antiviral therapy may help reduce the severity and duration of shingles if started within 72 hours of shingles onset, which is most commonly diagnosed by the presence of the rash.4
  • Shingles pain can be difficult to treat and your doctor may prescribe a variety of medications.

For more information about shingles please talk to your doctor.



  1. Gidding et al. Epidemiol Infect 2003;131(3):1085–9
  2. NCIRS Herpes Zoster Fact Sheet. March 2020. Available at:
  3. MacIntyre R. et al. PLoS ONE 2015.; 10(4):e0125025
  4. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, 2018, Accessed [9 May 2019]
  5. Harpaz R et al. MMRW. 2008;57(RR-5): 1-30



Shingles Information & Resources

For further information about shingles and its complications such as PHN download the following resources:

How common is shingles? How to prevent shingles virus. Shingles information leaflet

Shingles Audio Information