Shingles start with itching, burning, tingling, or painful feelings in a band-like area. The skin rash appears 3 to 4 days after you notice these symptoms.
Early symptoms happen about 3 to 4 days before the rash. During this time, you may have:
- Muscle aches
- Anxiety, nervousness
Discomfort in the skin, usually on one side of the face, torso, trunk, back, or buttocks. You may feel:
- Shooting pain
- Electric shock
- Sharp pain
- Extreme sensitivity to even light touch
Symptoms of Active Shingles
This period starts when you first notice a rash in the same area as the early symptoms:
- The rash begins as a reddish band or individual bumps in a line.
- The bumps get fluid-filled centers.
- Over the course of 7 to 10 days, the bumps dry and crust over.
- You may have pain and itching in the area of the rash; the pain may be severe.
- If the rash is on the side of your nose or other parts of your face, you should call your doctor right away. This can be a sign that your eye is affected.
The rash of active shingles should be gone within a week to a month. About 20% of people have pain after the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. It can be severe and limit activities.
Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113997/Herpes-zoster. Updated February 19, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.
NINDS shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/shingles.htm. Updated June 27, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.
Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/shingles. Accessed July 16, 2018.
Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html. Updated June 15, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.
Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, Packer D. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8):2437-2444.
Last reviewed May 2018 by James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 7/18/18