Shingles - Experience

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What is shingles? What does shingles look like?

Shingles is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, or simply zoster. There are approximately 1 million estimated cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles is more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems.

Pictures of shingles (herpes zoster) on the face
What does shingles look like?

The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path called a dermatome, affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline (to the other side). The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Cindy R., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 07

Two years ago this month while sitting on the floor, I suddenly had a horrific shooting pain, like a 12 inch serrated knife blade shoot through my right eye. Within a few seconds, I saw smoke, lightning flashes then my world went dark gray. Prior to this experience, the only thing I had noted was feeling of skin crawling, burning in my throat, an earache with some dizziness and an intense itching buried in the death of my skin. It was horrible! Since, my diet has had to change because I cannot eat certain foods like oranges, yogurt with fruit, etc. More so, my life has changed! This night two years ago the cornea of my right eye ruptured and a shingle now lives active on the front of my eye controlling my every move and emotion. I no longer work, still have intense shooting pain when I least expect it, cannot drive at night because of light sensitivity and fogged vision and I have to regulate my every move and reaction to stressful moments just to exist. I have been through a gamut of health care physicians who blew off my symptoms because there are no external signs of rash, scars or symptoms. The only person who took me serious, other than my significant other, was my optometrist. He is the one who finally came to understand I am an internal shingle carrier. Shingles will change your life when left untreated. My only suggestion is twofold: first take the vaccine if you possibly can as it may not prevent shingles, but it will reduce the magnitude of your symptoms and length of stay. Second, when you suddenly experience burning, itching, swelling in lymph nodes, or an unfamiliar rash - seek attention! I know one day I will be blind from another opening of my cornea. Until that happens I will give my body the respect it deserves, listen wisely to what it is telling me, and will take my acyclovir every single day for the rest of my life because my little eye shingle refuses to go dormant and gets angry very quickly. I share my experience because I would never ever want your life to change as has mine.

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Comment from: ro, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 21

Many years ago my finger was slammed in a car door fracturing the tip of my finger. The nail was removed and served as a splint. My nail grew back in time but was only attached at the base and not at the top. It grew and continues to grow but now is black at the top.

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