Shingles - Diagnosis 

Diagnosing shingles 

Your GP will normally be able to diagnose shingles from your symptoms and the appearance of your rash. Testing is not usually necessary.

Referral

It is uncommon for someone with shingles to be referred to a specialist for further assessment and treatment, but your GP may consider seeking specialist advice or referring you if:

  • they think you may have a complication of shingles, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • shingles is affecting one of your eyes – there is a risk you could develop permanent vision problems if the condition is not treated quickly
  • you have a weakened immune system – particularly in severe cases or cases affecting children
  • you are pregnant
  • a diagnosis is not certain

You may also be referred to a specialist if you have an unusually persistent case of suspected shingles that is not responding to treatment, or if you have been diagnosed with the condition more than twice.

Who might I see?

Who you are referred to will depend on your circumstances. It could be:

  • a paediatrician (a specialist in the care of babies and children) if your child is affected
  • an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in treating eye conditions) if shingles is affecting one of your eyes
  • your own consultant (a specialist in a particular area of medicine) if you have one for an existing medical condition such as HIV or AIDS

Page last reviewed: 25/06/2014

Next review due: 25/06/2016

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