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.

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. 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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Comment from: Blister warrior, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 19

I'm 54 year old woman. Last month I had an attack of severe emotional pain. I couldn't do anything. This has happened to me three or four times in the past two years. This time I kept a close watch at what happened. It lasted about 40 minutes. I have mental illness but this is new. It took 8 days to recover fully. During that time I got pain in my neck and left shoulder down my back. I got a rash in the middle of my back on the left side a couple days later. I had no idea. I left for a trip to see my daughter get married planning on traveling and visiting people over the next month. Someone told me it looked like shingles but I thought if it was it was a mild case because the pain went away and the rash was small. It did seem to spread under my left arm and under my breast but just a few bumps. The only difference was that they crusted over and they are still there six weeks later! I went to the doctor today because five days ago a terrible ache started under my shoulder blade. Over the past couple days the pain spread through to my chest. The rash was never all that bad but this pain is intolerable. It makes me cry! At night is the worst. So now I am on pain meds and hoping that I don't have nerve damage. I wish I had not let this go on so long. What is interesting is that the month before I was exposed to shingles while visiting a friend with them. I think I caught them from her even though I had chicken pox as a child. I am otherwise very healthy and never get sick, although I do have a dissociative disorder that is pretty tough to deal with 24/7. So that might have triggered the immune deficiency. But I was exposed and stayed at her house. I also was re-exposed on returning home from another friend too. I never have seen so many people with shingles in my life.

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