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: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 27

I was given a vaccine for chicken pox (varicella) a month ago, and immediately broke out in a shingles type rash along my waist and abdomen. It is a month now and I am suffering from fatigue, depression and the shingles rash looks pretty bad. I was prescribed anti-viral medication today by my doctor. I had to have a vaccine as I had never contracted any diseases in childhood, and nearly died from measles in 1989.

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Comment from: Dras4033, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 14

I have experienced shingles 4 times so far, the first time I was 4 months old and had it under my left shoulder blade. The second time it was on my upper hip and down the side of my thigh on the outside on the left side of my body. The third time it was on my right upper hip and last but not least on my right ribs below my breast. I have been told it is extremely rare to get shingles numerous times and that mostly it only happens in older people. So far this has not been the case and now my youngest child has her first round of shingles at age 17, but neither my husband nor I remember her ever having had chicken pox.

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