Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles start with itching, burning, tingling, or painful feelings in a band-like area on one side of the body. A skin rash appears about 3 to 4 days after these symptoms.
Early symptoms happen three to four days before the rash and may be:
- Muscle aches
- Skin discomfort on one side of the face, torso, trunk, back, or buttocks. It may include:
- Numbness or tingling
- Burning or stinging
- Shooting pain or sharp pain
- Electric shock
- Extreme sensitivity to even light touch
Symptoms of Active Shingles
This period starts with a rash in the same area as the early symptoms. A person may have:
- A rash that starts as a reddish band or individual bumps in a line
- Fluid-filled centers in the bumps
- Bumps drying and crusting over
- Pain (may be severe) and itching in the area of the rash
- Rash on the side of the nose or other parts of the face— this can be a sign that the eye is affected. Call the doctor right away for this.
For most people, active shingles is gone within a week to a month. Some people have pain after the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. It can be severe and limit activities.
- About shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html.
- Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/herpes-zoster.
- Saguil, A., Kane, S., et al. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: prevention and management. American Family Physician, 2017; 96 (10): 656-663.
- Shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page.
- Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/shingles-treatment.
- James Cornell, MD
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