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Common Symptoms Of Shingles and Treatment, That You Should Understand

Updated on January 12, 2012

If you have ever had Chicken Pox, and even if you haven't, you could get Shingles. Shingles is caused by the chicken pox virus, which cam lie dormant in the nerve tissues of the body for many years.This virus can then suddenly reappear and travel up to the surface of the skin by way of the nerves.

Anyone who has ever had Chicken Pox can get shingles. If you have shingles and the sores are open, you must avoid anyone who has never had Chicken Pox as you are now in a contagious state and can easily infect them. It is especially important to avoid the very young, pregnant woman, and anyone with a compromised immune system. Shingles usually attacks middle to older age adults and those with lowered immunity. What triggers an attack is not totally understood although fatigue and stress may be factors. One attack of shingles does not make you immune. Some individuals have two or even three attacks.

Shingles generally occur around only one side of the body, following the paths of the nerves. That means they may appear around your stomach, and spread around one side to the spine. The other half will be unaffected. The unsightly rash of Shingles can appear anywhere on the body, arms, legs, hands, face, neck, fingers, scalp and in the ears. Chicken pox, on the other hand spreads over the whole body.

The first thing you may notice is a simple reddening of the skin. A rash will then appear which will eventually turn into raised pimples which go on to become puss filled blisters. After the rash first appears there may be a tingling sensation or even numbness. Itching and burning is next. Scratching at this point can cause scaring. Other symptoms my include headache, chills, fever, nausea, and agonizing abdominal pain. These symptoms may last up to four weeks. Shingles in itself is not a fatal illness but there may be residual pain and skin sensitivity for many months, as well as permanent scaring.

It is important that you see your physical immediately if you have unexplained redness appearing on your body in any area, but especially if it makes the half-body pattern, and if a rash appears. This isĀ  vital if you have shingles in the area of your eyes as this can cause eye damage. Medication given at the onset of symptoms can lessen the severity of an attack and make some symptoms more tolerable. Even later on, topical creams or topical anti-inflammatory ointments may help. Pain medication may be prescribed. Some say cold compresses will sooth the itching.

There is a vaccine available now and many physicians advise it for patients over sixty. Discuss this with your doctor.

Be considerate of others. If you have shingles, isolate yourself. You might be contagious and can easily spread the affliction to those less able to withstand it.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I had shingles on both sides of face, near eyes, on scalp and hair coming out when I brushed it. I had it on both hands around fingernails. Also, had loss of taste, intense sense of smell and terrible insomnia. Waking up because having jerking at night so hard it hurt my bad shoulder and dog got off of bed and slept on the floor. Scarey part was out of breath abd shallow breathing! They never did a skin culture because to me it didn't look like shingles I saw pictures of in groups of rash but mine were not together and spots apart. I stll have one on chin that never goes away. I was 52 & low immune system and the doctors looked like I was some kind of ghost and made me really paranoid! I still have painful skin around fingernails and peeling. I still am having rashes and not as painful as shingles but would like to find an answer.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      I have had this several times, but unlike the typical shingles it spread to both sides of my body and yes it is very painful. I hope to never get it again. I never knew if I had the chicken pox, but after having had the shingles, we can safely say that I have had the chicken pox.

    • sarovai profile image


      9 years ago

      Informational hub about shingles , which is created by chicken fox virus. Thank you for this informational hub.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      9 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      Quite informative and useful info. Both Mom and her sister have come down with this in the past and received treatment. There is also a vaccine to help prevent this rash from recurring. Very very painful condition and contagious.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for you comment K Partin - shingles can be so dangerous near the eyes - so glad your neighbor is o.k. - B.

    • K Partin profile image

      K Partin 

      11 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

      My 82 year old neighbor actually had shingles in her eye, was very painful...she came through it ok,thanks for the info. K.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for taking your time to read and comment - so glad you recovered as well as you did - around the eyes it can get so dangerous - the remaining lesion is puzzling - I had a bad bout - let it go on far too long before going to the Dr. - the stomach pain was the worst for me - just lay and groaned - anyway, obviously we are both up and running again - regards, B.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      11 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      I had a mild case about five years ago. The doctor was concerned about my vision because there were lesions near my left eye. He gave me some strong anti-virals and pain pills. No permanent damage. I still have one small lesion on the top of my left ear that just doesn't seem to heal. I can live with that.


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