Shingles in Eye: Symptoms, Pictures, Without Rash, Contagious, Treatment

Shingles in eye, face and other parts of the skin is a common skin infection caused by herpes virus. Shingles can occur in anyone. It is however very common in people who previously suffered from chicken pox. Unlike chicken pox, shingles is contagious and as such, it can be transmitted from one person to the other.

According to health line, shingles can be very painful. The most visible symptom of this condition is a rash, but in some people, it could occur without a rash. Here are some images of how the condition looks like, symptoms and effective treatment option you can use to get rid of it.

Shingles is caused by a virus, varicella zoster. This is the same virus that causes chicken pox. This condition is also known as herpes zoster. It is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have at least one episode of shingle in their life time.


With shingles in eye, most people will have a blistering rash form on eyelids, forehead and in some cases on the tip and side of the nose. The rash can appear the same time as the blister or after the blisters have gone away.

Shingles will often be accompanied by other symptoms such as redness around eye, watery eyes, and in some cases blurry vision. Here are some pictures of how eye shingles will look like.

Possible Causes 

As mentioned, shingles often resemble chicken pox. In early stage, children often develop chicken pox caused by varicella zoster virus. After the condition is treated their bodies become immune to future attacks by the same virus.

The virus, however, remains inactive in the nervous system. During this time, the immune system helps keep the virus in check. The virus can, however, be reactivated to cause shingles. It is not possible to have shingles more than once.

The actual reasons for the reactivation of the virus is not known. Most medical researchers, however, believe the main cause to be weak or compromised immune system. The onset of shingles maybe as a result of the following:

  • Growing old
  • Suppressed immune system as a result of conditions such as HV/AIDS
  • A recent organ transplant
  • Cancer and chemotherapy medication

Shingles in eye can be shown by itchy, painful blisters on eyelids, forehead and on the tip and side of the nose. This form of shingles can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Sharp pain eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Tearing or watery eyes
  • Swelling on some parts of the eye.

Urgent and proper medical is required in such case. There are some ways that can help prevent this condition. The most recommended way to prevent this condition is getting vaccinated against the virus. This is encouraged especially for those who have not suffered chicken pox before.

The American CDC recommends the vaccine for older people above 60 years. Research shows that the vaccine cuts the risk of shingles by half.

Avoid close physical contact with people who have never had chicken pox before. This is especially in the early contagious stages when you have blisters on your skin. Avoid scratching the rash. You should also avoid close physical contact with pregnant women and those with weak or compromised immune system.

Shingles in eye early symptoms

The early signs of shingles in eye, on face or other parts of the body, is pain which is often followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters. In its early stages, the symptoms of shingles will often resemble those of chicken pox.

Around the eyes, the early signs of shingles will include pain and a feeling of burning. In most of the cases, the pain is often felt on one side of the body.

What follows is the appearance of painful, fluid filled blisters. For most people, these bumps turn yellowish, they may flatten and eventually dry out. If the blisters were appearing around eyes, scabs may then form leaving slight scarring.

Shingles in eye can also cause constant dull or burning sensation. The pain may vary from mild to severe. Some people may also experience a stabbing pain from time to time. The skin around the eyes where shingles rash occurs may feel tender.

These are some of the symptoms that might be shown by shingles. There are however some earlier signs that might appear before the itchy, painful rash. Before the rash appears, most people will often complain of the following:

  • Mild to a severe headache
  • Itching, tingling, and burning sensation around eye
  • Fever especially in children
  • General feeling of unwell.
  • Redness around eyes
  • Irritation in eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids, retina and cornea

According to the National Health Services, episodes of shingles will often last for around a week or two. They also add that shingle will only affect one side of the body. So is the rash is seen in both eyes, then it is probably not caused by shingles in eye.

Shingles on eyeball

Shingles on eyeball is caused by varicella-zoster virus. When affecting the eye, the condition is referred to as herpes zoster ophthalmicus. According to WebMD, herpes simplex type 1 which causes cold sores on your lips and around the mouth can also lead to eye problems.

When affecting the eye, this virus will often result in an infected cornea. In this case, it is called herpes simplex keratitis. In newborns, this condition can also be caused by herpes simplex type 2.  Shingles in eye can often be shown by the following:

  • Redness in eyes
  • Pain on one side of face or around eyes
  • A feeling of dirt or grit in your eyes
  • Cloudy or swollen cornea
  • Watery eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

The outbreak of eyeball shingles occurs when the varicella virus that lies dominant in your body multiply or more from one area of your body to the other. Those with weak or compromised immune system are at the highest risk of developing this condition.

As said shingles can develop on any part of the body.  Anybody who had chicken pox as a child is at a great risk of developing shingles later on in life. According to health line, at least 1 in 5 people who had chicken pox before ends up developing shingles later on in life.

Shingles can develop in any part of the body. You are at risk of developing shingles on eyeball if:

  • You had chicken pox while growing up
  • You are taking drugs  that suppress your immune system
  • You are older than 50 years and have not been vaccinated against shingles
  • You have a weak or compromised immune system
  • You are emotionally stressed

Are shingles in eyes contagious?

Shingles just like chicken pox is very contagious. Shingles rash can develop on any part of the body. Shingles in eye can easy be transmitted from one person to the other especially to those who have not suffered from chicken pox or have not been vaccinated against the virus.

Vaccination is the most recommended way of preventing the spread of this condition from one person the other. There are also other steps that must be taken to prevent the spread of the infection.

You will need to do the following:

  • Avoid close physical contact with pregnant women and those with weak or compromised immunes system
  • You need to ensure that the rash is always covered
  • Avoid scratching
  • Keep your hands clean
  • See your health care provider as soon as possible

Shingles in eye without rash

The pain, itching, and irritation of shingles may develop even without rash. Though primarily a painful rash is the most visible sign of shingles, shingles in eye may occur without rash in some people.

Before the rash, you may notice other symptoms such as burning pain and sensitive skin around eye. You are also like to experience itching, tingling in eye, constant aching and in some cases deep shooting pain inside your eye. Some people may experience fever, chills and stomach upset.

When a painful rash is the characteristic of shingles, the rash will often start as small painful fluid filled blisters. With eyes shingles, the blisters will continue to form for 2 to 4 days. The blisters may appear along the eyelids or spread to the tip and sides of the nose.

Similar to the rash and painful blister formed by chicken pox, the blister eventually burst and start to ooze. They will then crust over and heal. At this stage, the virus is very contagious. It can easily be spread to those not vaccinated or immune to the virus (never suffered from chicken pox before)

Shingles without can be hard to diagnoses. Early medical diagnosis and treatment is required in such cases to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Early treatment may also help reduce the risk of complication associated with varicella virus.

Shingles in eye treatment

No treatment is often required for shingles in eyes. However, early diagnosis may be required. With shingles, your health care provider can easily diagnose the condition by looking at the symptoms and the rash.

Early treatment may help reduce the severity of symptoms such as itching, irritating, pain and burning sensation. Treatment for shingles on eye may be required to stop the virus from spreading, cure the painful blisters, relieve pain and also help the rash fade off fast.

When treatment is done early, most people are able to prevent long term complication of shingles or the virus. Oral or topical medication can be used depending on the severity of the symptoms.  For treatment your doctor may prescribe:

  • Steroid pills or eye drop to relieve swelling in eye
  • Pain medication may also be prescribe
  • In case where develop post herpetic neuralgia, antidepressants are often prescribed.

Without early and proper treatment, shingles may lead to complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). This is the most common complication of shingles. It is defined as persistence of the nerve pain associated with shingles beyond one month.

The pain of PHN can be severe. Statistics show that up to 15% of the people with shingles end up developing this condition. With proper medical care, antiviral drugs can reduce the duration and occurrence of PHN.

Shingles eye drops

Shingles in eye just like on other parts of the body requires proper medical care. There is no treatment for this condition, however, for eye shingles, there are some antiviral eye drops that may help reduce or prevent scarring.

There are many drugs your health care provider may prescribe to fight shingles and its symptoms. Depending on the stage and symptoms shown, your doctor is likely to prescribe the following:

  • Antiviral eye drop, this are drugs that help fight virus infection
  • Pain medication, here your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and narcotic pain control drugs for the management of pain
  • At times corticosteroids eye drops may be used to reduce inflammation and also manage pain

Natural remedies for shingles

Apart from medically treating shingles, there are some natural remedies you could use to relieve the pain, itching and burning sensation caused by shingles rash. You could try the following:

1. Virgin coconut oil

Virgin oil is a great natural skin remedy. This oil can be a great remedy for treating shingles and relieve the symptoms associated with shingles.

  • Use a clean towel to apply the oil directly on the affected area
  • Do this twice or thrice daily for good results

2. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider is an anti-microbial agent. When used, it can help you clear the blisters caused by shingles. It is also a strong astringent that can help mask the pain, itching, and irritation.

To use the remedy:

  • Dip a clean cotton ball in apple cider solution and apply it directly on the affected area
  • Be gently not to drain or pop the blisters
  • Apply ACV twice to speed up the healing of the blisters

3. Aloe Vera gel  

Aloe Vera gel is a great remedy you can use to relieve the itching and burning irritation caused by shingles. Aloe Vera gel is a great anti-itching and anti-inflammatory remedy that will help relieve the swelling of the blisters and speed up the healing.

All you need is to apply the gel on the blisters once or twice. If the symptom persists, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.