4 Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Nursing Care Plans


Herpes zoster, also called shingles, is an infectious condition caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes varicella zoster (chickenpox). After a case of chickenpox run its course, the virus lies dormant in the ganglia of the spinal nerve tracts. Then the virus reactivates and travels along the peripheral nerves to the skin, where the viruses multiply and produce painful vesicular eruptions. It is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems.

Although VZV typically affects the trunk of the body, the virus may also be noted on the buttocks or face. If an ophthalmic nerve is involved, the client may potentially experience keratitis, ulceration and possibly blindness. Secondary infection resulting from scratching the lesions is common.

An individual with an outbreak of VZV is infectious for the first 2 to 3 days after the eruption. The incubation period ranges from 7 to 21 days. The total course of the disease is 10 days to 5 weeks from onset to full recovery. Some individuals may develop painful postherpetic neuralgia long after the lesions heal.

Shingles is characterized initially by a burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area. VZV infection can lead to central nervous system (CNS) involvement; pneumonia develops in about 15% of cases. Approximately 20% of people who have had chickenpox will develop herpes zoster.

Nursing Care Plans

Major nursing goals for a client with shingles may include increased understanding of the disease condition and treatment regimen, relief of discomfort from the lesions, emphasis on strict contact isolation, development of self-acceptance, and absence of complications.


Here are four (4) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis (NDx) for patients with herpes zoster (shingles):

  1. Acute/Chronic Pain
  2. Deficient Knowledge
  3. Risk for Infection
  4. Risk for Disturbed Body Image

Deficient Knowledge

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Complexity of treatment
  • Emotional state affecting learning
  • Herpes zoster outbreak
  • New condition and procedures

Possibly evidenced by

  • Inadequate follow-up of instructions
  • Questioning members of health care team
  • Verbalizing inaccurate information

Desired Outcomes

  • Client or caregiver will verbalize needed information regarding the disease, signs and symptoms, treatment, and possible complications of herpes zoster.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Determine the client’s and caregiver’s understanding of the disease condition, treatment, and complications.It is important for the client and caregiver to understand that an occult disease may have weakened the client and allowed the expression of the herpes zoster.
Because of potential infectivity, determine whether the client’s caregiver or family has had chickenpox or varicella vaccine or is immunocompromised.Even though varicella vaccine does not confer immunity to shingles, it is less common in varicella-vaccinated adults than those who have had chickenpox.
Provide necessary information to the client and caregiver, including written information:Client may confuse terminology and confuse herpes zoster with genital herpes. Because the client may be reluctant to ask, clarify this point for the client. Clients must have a comprehensive understanding of their disease to actively participate in their own care.
  • Explanation of the need for isolation.
Clients should isolate their clothing and linen, including towels.
  • Description of herpes zoster, including how the disease is spread.
Fluids from lesions contain viruses, which are spread by direct contact.
  • Need to notify health care professionals of the signs of central nervous system (CNS) inflammation (changes in the level of consciousness).
Early assessment facilitates prompt treatment of complications.
Encourage herpes zoster vaccination (Zostavax).This vaccination is recommended for individuals 60 years or older. It is not recommended for pregnant women or those with primary or acquired immunodeficiencies or any allergy to its components. A 50% decrease in future outbreaks and greater than 60% reduction in postherpetic neuralgia have been reported.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans affecting the integumentary system:

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.