Shingles may feel like the onset of flu in its early stages. You may have a headache or muscle stiffness. You may be sensitive to light, feel tired, dizzy, and generally unwell.
In its early stages, shingles may feel like the onset of flu. You may have a headache or muscle stiffness. You may be sensitive to light, feel tired, dizzy, and generally unwell.
These first symptoms are typically followed by a tingling, burning or itching sensation in one part of your body. After a few days – but sometimes not for a week or more – that area will probably develop a rash that turns into clusters of blisters. The rash normally forms from the center of the back to the center of the chest or stomach, but it may occur on the face or elsewhere on the body.
What to expect: Pain from shingles typically lasts for 2 to 4 weeks. You may experience a “pins and needles” sensation, tingling, itching, stabbing, shooting or burning pain in the area of the rash. Your skin may feel extremely sensitive to any sensation and you may have a fever and experience muscle weakness.
Get Medical Help If:
- You suspect you have shingles – early treatment with antivirals may lessen the course of the infection
- Pain does not diminish after 4 weeks
- Pain is too debilitating for you to manage with over-the-counter remedies
- Shingles occur near your eye
- You suspect the shingles outbreak has become infected due to the presence of swelling, increasing and spreading redness in the affected area, a high fever, and pus
- The rash does not show any signs of improvement after 10 days
Is it contagious? Shingles itself is not contagious but contact with the rash in its active stage can pass the varicella-zoster virus along to someone who hasn’t had chickenpox. Until the blisters have dried out and scabbed over, it’s best for shingles-sufferers to stay away from people who have not had/been vaccinated against chickenpox, pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems.
- Prescription antiviral drugs are typically utilized for the treatment of shingles.
- Your doctor may also prescribe pain killers, and a topical numbing cream, gel, spray or skin patch.
- An anticonvulsant drug may be prescribed to soothe overactive nerves that cause pain during the height of the infection. Your doctor may recommend taking this drug along with over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Your healthcare provider may also recommend cool baths, topical astringents, and cool, wet compresses to relieve the rash, reduce blisters, and ease the irritation and itching.
- MedlinePlus, the National Institutes of Health’s Website
- Shinglesinfo.com (stats on chickenpox and shingles, contagious facts, symptoms)