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Understanding Shingles -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?

The symptoms of shingles include:

  • Pain or a bruised feeling -- usually on one side of your face or body -- often along with a fever, chills, headache, or upset stomach
  • Tingling, itching, or prickling skin, followed several days later by a group of fluid-filled blisters on a red, inflamed base of skin
  • Deep burning, searing, aching, or stabbing pain, which may occur once in a while or last a long time


Call Your Doctor About Shingles If:

  • You suspect an outbreak is beginning. If you take antiviral drugs in the early stages, you may shorten the course of the infection.
  • Shingles on your face spreads near your eye; seek treatment from an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) to avoid possible cornea damage.
  • The affected area becomes secondarily infected with bacteria (indicated by spreading redness, swelling, a high fever, and pus); antibiotics can help halt the spread of bacterial infection but not the shingles itself.
  • Your rash lasts longer than 10 days without improvement; get treatment to avoid potential nerve damage.
  • The pain becomes too great to bear; your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers or a nerve block.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on March 18, 2015

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