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Shingles is diagnosed by its pain and its specific rash. To confirm that you have shingles, your doctor may scrape some skin from a blister or collect some of its fluid for testing. The tests can detect the presence of the varicella-zoster virus.

These tests include:

  • Microscopic examination
  • Viral culture
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Polymerase chain reaction techniques

It may take three to several weeks to obtain the results of some of these tests.

References:

NINDS shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/shingles.htm . Updated January 10, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/shingles . Accessed May 30, 2013.

Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html . Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.

Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, Packer D. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician . 2000;61(8). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0415/p2437.html . Accessed May 30, 2013.

Zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated May 20, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.



Last reviewed May 2014 by David Horn, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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