A shingles rash, or herpes zoster, typically affects one side of the body, which can include a person’s arm. A doctor may recommend medication and home remedies to treat shingles on the arm.

Before the rash appears on the arm, an individual may experience symptoms such as pain or a tingling sensation. When the rash develops, it may also affect other areas of the body.

This article discusses shingles on the arm in more detail, including causes and symptoms, treatment options, diagnosis, and more.

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It is possible for shingles to affect the arms.

Shingles most commonly affects either the right or the left side of the body, developing in a stripe. However, it may also involve other areas, including the arm.

In rare cases, the rash can become widespread. However, it typically only affects a larger area of the body in people with weakened immune systems.

Other symptoms that can occur with shingles include:

There are numerous possible causes of a rash on the arm. Therefore, it is best to contact a doctor for a diagnosis as soon as symptoms develop.

The main symptom of shingles is a rash. A blistering rash may develop on the arm. It typically affects just one side of the body, though in some cases it may be more widespread. The rash may also be painful.

Before the rash appears on the arm, a person may notice a tingling sensation or pain.

The rash typically lasts around 2–4 weeks. As the rash begins to heal, the blisters may bleed as they crack open. Scabs will then begin to form.

Learn about what shingles looks like when it first starts.

Shingles develops as a result of the varicella-zoster virus, also called the human herpesvirus 3. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

After a person has chickenpox, the virus continues to live dormant in the body. If something weakens the immune system, this can cause the virus to activate and develop into shingles.

Shingles is more likely to occur in people over the age of 50 years. This is because the immune system naturally starts to weaken with age.

Other factors that may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of shingles include:

  • taking medication to suppress the immune system
  • having HIV
  • having certain cancers, such as lymphoma or leukemia
  • receiving some types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy

If a person is at risk of shingles, a doctor may recommend getting the shingles vaccine. This can help people who have previously had chickenpox to reduce the risk of shingles developing.

If a doctor suspects someone has shingles, they may refer them to a dermatologist, who may be able to diagnose the condition by the appearance of the rash alone.

The dermatologist may also take a sample of fluid from a blister. They can then send it to a laboratory to check for the virus that causes shingles.

If a person has shingles, the dermatologist may prescribe an antiviral medication. Examples include:

Receiving medical treatment within 3 days of developing the rash can help reduce the risk of long lasting pain and other complications.

Other steps that can help a person manage symptoms of shingles include:

  • wearing loose clothing
  • using calamine lotion
  • taking an oatmeal bath
  • avoiding scratching the area

A doctor can also recommend treatments for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is pain that persists after shingles has healed. A person may feel PHN pain in the area where the rash developed. This pain typically reduces over time.

Learn more about home remedies for shingles.

PHN is the most common complication of shingles. It affects around 10–18% of people who have experienced shingles.

Other possible complications include:

  • bacterial infection
  • vision problems
  • hearing difficulties
  • pneumonia
  • encephalitis — inflammation of the brain

Beginning medical treatment for shingles as early as possible can help reduce the risk of complications.

A person may develop a shingles rash on their arm. It can occur when something weakens the immune system and causes the varicella-zoster virus in the body to activate. A person will have this virus in their body if they have previously had chickenpox.

The main symptom of shingles is a painful, blistering rash. Scabs will begin to form as the rash heals. A person may also experience symptoms such as a headache, fever, and chills.

Receiving medical treatment within 3 days of developing the rash can help reduce the risk of long lasting pain and other complications. A doctor may recommend antiviral medications and home remedies such as calamine lotion.