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: TooYoungForVaccine, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 02

I am 30 years old, and have had recurring shingles for 7 years now. This is the second time this year. Last year I had it about 4 times. The year before multiple times, as well as those prior. The first time it happened I was working in another country. The doctors diagnosed me and sent me on my way with medication. I stayed home from work for about a week. Some incidences have been worse than others not allowing me to continue on with daily activities. The last time I had shingles, they appeared on my leg, buttocks, and shoulder. I luckily do not have any of the severe pain each time but may feel like I have the flu and itching and tingling at the nerve ending. I wish I did not have to deal with this all my life and would like to be offered the option of the vaccine. They do not allow anyone younger than 59 have the vaccination. There are no known contraindications for that age limit in what I read on this site.

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Comment from: Uncle Slick, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 24

I am entering the sixth week of being diagnosed with severe shingles. My skin is clearing up and I am still experiencing throbbing intermittent pain. The rash was on the left side of torso, front, back and side. My problem is that after 6 weeks I am still unable to wear any clothing on my torso due to hypersensitivity of my areola.

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