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Common Shingles Signs and Symptoms

    Feeling a little run-down and noticing a painful rash developing along one side of your body? If you’ve ever had chickenpox, these might actually be symptoms of shingles. Here are the signs experts say of which to be aware.

    Shingles is a common viral infection that manifests itself in the form of a painful rash on the skin. When the varicella zoster virus (which causes chickenpox) reactivates in the body, it produces shingles.

    Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles in the future. The illness usually affects people in their fifties and sixties. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is because the immune system weakens with age and is no longer able to keep the virus dormant (AAD).

    A rash that emerges as a patchy strip of fluid-filled blisters, almost often down one side of the body or face, is the telltale indication of shingles. However, there are signs of sickness before the rash shows.

    Continue reading to learn more about the signs and symptoms that you or a loved one may encounter during a shingles attack.

    Symptoms and Signs of Shingles

    According to the National Institute on Aging, most instances of shingles persist three to five weeks (NIA). The indications and symptoms of the condition can alter over time.

    Rash That Hurts

    The rash is the most common symptom of shingles. Here’s what you’ll probably notice if you have shingles:

    It develops along just one side of the body or face.

    The shingles rash, unlike chickenpox bumps that occur all over the body, usually appears as a band in a concentrated area on either the right or left side of the body. The virus attacks the neurological system beneath the skin, reactivating in a single nerve in most cases. According to MedlinePlus, any part of the skin related to that nerve pathway can cause the rash.

    The torso is a typical rash area. The shingles rash can also appear on the buttocks, arms, legs, and face, according to physicians at Boston Children’s Hospital. The rash may be more extensive in rare cases, and generally among persons with compromised immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    It appears as a cluster of bumps that turn into small blisters.

    According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the rash will begin as pimples on the skin. The rash appears red on lighter skin, however the National Health Service of the United Kingdom cautions out that the hue can appear differently on darker skin. According to Temple Health, a red rash on darker skin may appear red, but it could also appear purple, darker or lighter than the skin’s natural hue, or no different from the skin’s natural colour.

    The lumps turn into vesicles, which are fluid-filled blisters that appear after a few days. The vesicles may coalesce to cover a greater region or appear as independent clusters, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

    It will eventually ooze and scab over as it heals.

    The vesicles will burst and flow once the blistery rash appears, before drying out and crusting over. This scabbing procedure can take up to ten days to complete. Within two to four weeks, the scabs should be completely healed.

    The rash may cause discomfort, such as soreness, itching, or tingling, according to the CDC. According to the AAD, the pain may remain longer than the rash, usually ceasing after a month or two.

    Sensitivity to the skin

    You may notice skin irritation or discomfort one to five days before a rash appears. The sensations are frequently characterised as resembling:

    • Shooting pain
    • Itching
    • Tingling
    • Burning
    • Numbness

    Keep an eye out for areas of skin irritation. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, discomfort will be felt in the location where the shingles rash will shortly form.

    The discomfort can be slight, moderate, or severe, or it can be somewhere in between.

    Flu-Like Symptoms

    Even before the rash appears, you may experience symptoms that are similar to those of other viral diseases, such as the flu. These signs and symptoms include:

    • Fever \sChills
    • Headache
    • stomach ache
    • I’m not feeling great in general.
    • Light sensitivity is a term used to describe a person’s sensitivity to light

    According to the AAD, these symptoms will normally go away as the rash clears.

    When Should You See a Doctor?

    If you suspect you might have shingles, you should consult a doctor very away. According to the AAD, getting your rash evaluated and treated within three days might help you feel better sooner and avoid any potential consequences.

    Because some people are at a higher risk of having shingles-related complications, it’s extremely crucial to visit a doctor and get treated if:

    • Your rash is close to your eye. Blisters near or in the eye can cause eye damage and even blindness.
    • Due to a medical condition or medication, your immune system is impaired. According to the CDC, people who are immunocompromised are more likely to be hospitalised for shingles.
    • You’ve reached the age of adulthood. When it comes to shingles, older people are more likely to be admitted to the hospital. According to the CDC, they’re also more prone to develop shingles complications including postherpetic neuralgia, which causes excruciating nerve pain even after the shingles rash has faded.

    The health care practitioner will inquire if you’ve ever had chickenpox before, examine your rash, and note your symptoms during the session. Typically, the provider can identify shingles based on your medical history and the appearance of the rash.

    A laboratory test may be used to confirm infection by your doctor. According to MedlinePlus, they will either swab fluid from the blister or extract blood and submit the sample to a lab for testing.


    Shingles is a viral ailment caused by the chickenpox virus becoming active in the body again. Shingles is most commonly associated with its principal symptom: a painful, blistery rash. Typical viral symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, and headache are also common indicators of shingles infection.

    If you suspect you have shingles, seek treatment as soon as possible.


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    • National Institute on Aging. Shingles.
    • MedlinePlus. Shingles.
    • Boston Children’s Hospital. Herpes Zoster (Shingles).
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Signs & Symptoms.
    • American Academy of Family Physicians. Shingles.
    • National Health Service. Shingles.
    • Temple Health. How Common Skin Conditions Affect People of Color.
    • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Shingles: Hope Through Research.
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Clinical Overview.
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