Symptoms of Shingles

Shingles start with itching, burning, tingling, or painful feelings in a band-like area. A skin rash appears about 3 to 4 days after these symptoms.

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms happen 3 to 4 days before the rash and may be:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Nervousness
  • Skin discomfort usually on one side of the face, torso, trunk, back, or buttocks. It may include:
    • Numbness or tingling
    • Itching
    • 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. Symptoms may be

  • 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—can be a sign that the eye is affected (call the doctor right away).

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: Accessed November 15, 2021.
Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed November 15, 2021.
Saguil A, Kane S, et al. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: prevention and management. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(10):656-663.
Shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Accessed November 15, 2021.
Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: . Accessed November 15, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 11/15/21

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