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: Ann, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 12

I had the shingles vaccine in January, 2011. Pain in left cheek started on September 30, 2015. By Sunday, rash appeared on left side of face so I went to an urgent care center and was prescribed medication. As the week went on, I got blistery lesions on the side of nose and very close to the eye. Lesions also appeared inside nostril, on roof of mouth, in and around lips, and in throat. I saw my physician on October 7. I had bad headache and very sick feeling, and spent many days in bed. I have no confidence in the vaccine shot I was given. Perhaps it was nothing but water!

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Comment from: Filgrastin, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I fortunately had an appointment with my doctor the day prior to discovering my shingles rash. As soon as she saw the rash on the right side of my abdomen she diagnosed it as shingles and gave me a prescription for acyclovir. This has been going on now for over a week. The rash is clearing up with the use of calamine lotion but I still have the pain unless I sit down very carefully keeping my body almost erect. I am taking Tylenol over the counter for pain. My doctor offered me a pain medication which unfortunately I refused but wish I had taken it. I did not get the shingles shot but when all of this is over I will ask my doctor if I should get it.

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