Shingles: Symptoms and effects of virus
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Shingles is a painful condition caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone can get it, but it’s most common in older people. What exactly does the rash look like?
Healthline says: “Discovering a rash on your skin can be alarming, especially when that rash is itchy or painful.
“While many conditions can cause a rash to appear on your skin, shingles and herpes are two common causes.”
The NHS says that the main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters.
It explains: “New blisters may appear for up to a week, but a few days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out. Scabs then form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring.”
A rash due to shingles will most likely occur in a “single stripe” on one side of the body.
The rash has been described as having a blotchy appearance.
The rash will usually clear up within two to four weeks, but until the rash crusts, the person affected must limit their social contact.
It is strongly advisable, if possible, to avoid contact with pregnant women who have not had chickenpox in the past and premature infants.
While shingles is usually resolved within a month, one common complication can occur.
This is known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is long-term nerve pain.
Wherever the shingles rash appeared, pain can remain in the area for years afterwards.
“The pain from PHN can be so severe and debilitating that it interferes with daily life,” the CDC warned.
The NHS says the pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation and its intensity can vary from mild to severe.
“You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time, and the affected area of skin will usually be tender,” it adds.
The health body adds: “Shingles usually affects a specific area on one side of the body and doesn’t cross over the midline of the body (an imaginary line running from between your eyes down past the belly button).
“Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, but the chest and abdomen (tummy) are the most common areas.”
It’s important to get advice from 111 as soon as possible if you think you have shingles, added the NHS.
Medication might be needed to speed up the recovery process and to avoid longer-lasting issues.
It is critical to get treated within three days of symptom onset.
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