Understanding Shingles -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?

The symptoms of shingles include:

  • Localized burning, throbbing or stabbing pain where the rash will soon appear (within days to weeks); some people describe it as more itchy. It can be constant or come and go.
  • Tingling, itching, or prickling skin, followed several days later by a group of fluid-filled blisters on a red, inflamed base of skin; the blisters typically crust over in a week.
  • The rash may be accompanied by fever, fatigue, or headache.

 

 

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.
  • You have the rash on your face, especially on the nose. This puts you at risk of herpes zoster in the eye, which can lead to corneal damage and vision problems.
  • 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.
  • The pain becomes too great to bear; your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers or a nerve block.
  • You have shingles and are in contact with someone who has a weakened immune system.

  • You develop any strange symptoms with the shingles rash, such as vertigo, buzzing in your ears, rapid onset weakness, double vision, face droop, or confusion.

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on 2/, 017

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."

UpToDate.

 

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