Shingles Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Shingles Symptoms

Most people know that Shingles is an infection of the skin and that it has something to do with chicken pox. However many do not know much more about it – this may be the reason why shingles symptoms are easy to miss. Almost everyone has had or will have shingles.

The first symptom of shingles is very often childhood chickenpox – the two diseases are caused by the same virus.

It is important to note that shingles develops in stages and the symptoms will vary according to those stages. There are stages where the symptoms coincide but generally there will be a distinct set of symptoms which enables the consulting medic to prescribe the correct course of treatment.

In the first stage of shingles – when the chicken pox virus has reactivated – there will be a range of symptoms which can easily be confused with many other illnesses. These include headache, flu-like aches and pains, light sensitivity and the tell tale itch – a small area of skin will itch uncontrollably and this will be an indication to the medical practitioner that a shingles attack may be present.

Next a few spots will appear and be redder than the surrounding skin, after a few days these spots will connect forming a thin strip of skin which appears to be redder and even more itchy than before.

Over the course of the week the strip will grow and a band will start to develop. At this point the itching may seem to be insurmountable but in a couple of days it will subside and the patient is left with a red band of skin. This type of shingles will not be limited to one area of skin but may appear in several random areas.

Once this band is fully formed the shingles attack will begin to evolve with the continuance of some similar symptoms. The sufferer will continue to experience tickling, tingling, pain, some burning and numbing of the affected areas. This numbness in particular can appear some time before the emergence of the rash – but often goes unnoticed because of its situation. These shingle symptoms are most often on the chest and/or back but can appear almost anywhere else. As the patient experiences the flu-like symptoms, headache, stomach ache, nausea etc the rash will finally appear along with pain and swelling in the lymph nodes – this is often when the sufferer realizes that something is amiss.

The second stage of shingles is the busy period – the time when everything happens. The rash is fully formed in about seven days – affecting only one side of the body where an angry red strip will have appeared. Then blisters, filled with the infectious clear liquid, will develop on top of the red strip. If left the liquid will become cloudy within a couple of days – provided the rash is not in the face area it is not dangerous, but, if it is near the eyes, nose or mouth then complications may well occur. Along with the rash comes an intense, burning pain – sometimes described as feeling like needles piercing the skin.

Once the blisters have turned cloudy they will begin to break open, scab over and, eventually, heal. Unfortunately these blisters almost always leave scars. As the sickness runs its course and the blistery scabs begin to disappear so too do the shingles symptoms however sensitivity to touch may linger in the previously infected areas.

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