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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 2013 by Peter Lucas, MD; Michael Woods, 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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