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 Bernstein, MD on March 18, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke: "Shingles. Seek Early Treatment."

Mayo Clinic Health Letter, p7, June 2002.

Oxman M. New England Journal of Medicine, June 2, 2005.

Douglas M. Drug Safety,  2004.

WebMD Health News: "Shingles Vaccine to Be Routine at 60."

FDA: "FDA Licenses New Vaccine to Reduce Older Americans' Risk of Shingles."

 

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