Shingles - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms of your shingles?

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What are shingles symptoms and signs?

Shingles usually starts with burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the region where the rash will ultimately develop. Sometimes, this pain can be severe and individuals may complain of extremely sensitive skin. This discomfort typically occurs a few days before the rash develops. In rare instances, the characteristic shingles rash will not appear (a condition called zoster sine herpete).

Often, individuals may also experience other associated symptoms such as

  • headache,
  • fever and chills,
  • malaise,
  • nausea,
  • body aches,
  • swollen lymph glands.

A few days after the skin discomfort begins (or rarely, several weeks afterward), the characteristic rash of shingles will appear. It typically begins as clusters of small red patches that eventually develop into small blisters. These fluid-filled blisters eventually break open, and the small sores begin to slowly dry and crust over. The crusts usually fall off after several weeks, and the shingles rash typically clears up after approximately four weeks. Though uncommon, in cases of a severe rash, skin discoloration or scarring of the skin is possible.

The location of the shingles rash can vary. Though shingles can appear almost anywhere on the body, it most commonly affects the torso and the face (including the eyes, ears, and mouth). It is often present in the area of the ribcage or the waist. This characteristic rash is in a stripe or band-like pattern that affects only one side of the body (the right or the left), and it usually does not cross over the midline. In some cases, the rash can affect adjacent dermatomes, and rarely it can affect three or more dermatomes (a condition termed disseminated zoster). Disseminated zoster generally occurs only in individuals with a compromised immune system.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: richbgmac, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 30

I was diagnosed with shingles within 4 days of discovering an irregularity near the spine in the small of my back. Within about 24 hours the lesions on my skin spread toward my left side and eventually near my navel. The stabbing pains were excruciating! I felt like a thousand pins and knives were relentlessly stabbing me. The only effective medication was a 6 hour regimen of Vicodin and Tylenol, but the narcotic effect of Vicodin disrupted my system. I suffered with a high level of intense pain daily for almost 10 weeks! Today most of the pain and skin lesions have subsided. Now I have extreme shooting pains just below my navel every day! A recent CT scan ruled out kidney stones. So I don"t know what this could be now! The doctor did mention something about a neuropathy that could linger after shingles and last from 90 days to years. Sure hope it"s not that. I have endured extreme/sharp pain almost 2 months.

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Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 02

About 10 days ago, I had some "bites" appear on my left breast, I just put some tea tree cream on as that usually works for the itching. But it didn't. My neighbor thought they were spider bites so I went to the pharmacy and got some broad spectrum antibiotics as they were looking a bit infected. Three days ago, I couldn't touch my breasts they were so tender and painful, a tingling/pins and needles/numb pain that had spread to my left shoulder blade. Doctor confirmed this morning I have herpes on my left breast and prescribed Zovirax cream and Valtrex, hope it kicks in soon!

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