The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
- A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
Some people also experience:
- Fever and chills
- General achiness
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending on the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.
Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of your torso. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor promptly if you suspect shingles, but especially in the following situations:
Sep. 01, 2011
- The pain and rash occur near an eye. If left untreated, this infection can lead to permanent eye damage.
- You're 65 or older, which increases your risk of complications.
- You or someone in your family has a weakened immune system (due to cancer, medications or chronic illness).
- The rash is widespread and painful.
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- Shingles: Clinical overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
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- Shingles vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-shingles.pdf. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Albrecht MA. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. http://uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Albrecht MA. Clinical manifestations of varicella-zoster virus infection: Herpes zoster. http://uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- FDA approves Zostavax vaccine to prevent shingles in individuals 50 to 59 years of age. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed June 24, 2011.
- Zostavax (prescribing information). Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co.; 2011. http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/z/zostavax/zostavax_pi2.pdf. Accessed June 24, 2011.
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