Symptoms of Shingles

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

Early symptoms happen about 3 to 4 days before the rash. During this time, you may have:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Discomfort in the skin, usually on one side of the face, torso, trunk, back, or buttocks. You may feel:
    • Numbness
    • Itching
    • Burning
    • Stinging
    • Tingling
    • 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.

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References:

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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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 June 2018 by James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 7/18/18

 

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