What are physical findings characteristic of herpes zoster (shingles)?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Classic physical findings include painful grouped herpetiform vesicles on an erythematous base confined to the cutaneous surface innervated by a sensory nerve (see the first image below). Typically, the condition affects a single dermatome, most commonly a thoracic dermatome, on one side of the body (see the second, third, and fourth images below). Regional lymphadenopathy may be present.

Typical zoster in the vicinity of right popliteal Typical zoster in the vicinity of right popliteal fossa in a vertebral nerve L4 distribution.
Herpes zoster, unilateral, on trunk. Herpes zoster, unilateral, on trunk.
Herpes zoster on lateral part of abdomen. Herpes zoster on lateral part of abdomen.
Suspected zoster of the hand. Suspected zoster of the hand.

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