Shingles | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of shingles?

Shingles usually causes a painful, blistering rash. Sometimes the pain starts a few days before the rash appears. You may also have a fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and difficulty urinating.

The rash begins with reddish bumps. In a few days, these bumps turn into fluid-filled blisters. You might feel a stinging or burning pain. The rash might also itch. Shingles occurs most often on the trunk of the body, such as a band of blisters around your back and chest.

The blisters usually crust over and fall off after about a week. You may see changes in the color of your skin when the scabs fall off. In more severe cases of shingles, these color changes are permanent.

Even though the rash from shingles gets better or goes away in a few weeks, the pain may last longer. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia. In most people, however, the pain of shingles goes away in 1 to 2 months.

What are the symptoms of HZO?

HZO can cause a rash with small blisters to break out on the forehead and around the eye, typically on one side of your face. Sometimes you will have pain in the same area of your face a few days before the outbreak. Infection of the eye causes extreme pain, swelling of the eyelid, light sensitivity and redness.

In severe cases, the cornea can be damaged. This can affect your vision.

People who have herpes zoster ophthalmicus should see an eye doctor right away.

What are the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia?

Like shingles, postherpetic neuralgia causes a stinging or burning pain. Your skin might become very sensitive to temperature changes or a light touch, such as from a bedsheet, your clothing or moving air.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00

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