Shingles symptoms usually appear in stages. Pain is often the first symptom, this may be described as a deep deep burning, throbbing or stabbing sensation. Sometimes this pain can be misdiagnosed as being related to kidney, lung or heart issues, depending on its location. This is because some people suffer from the pain associated with shingles and do not always develop a rash.
The shingles rash is, however, the most common sign of shingles. It typically appears on one side of the body and occurs in small red patches. It will likely develop fluid-filled blisters that break easily and crust over, this fluid is contagious to others who have never have chickenpox. The rash may also wrap around from the torso to the spine and even appear on the face and ears. It will itch and be uncomfortably painful.
The blisters may take two to four weeks to heal and are likely to leave scars depending on their severity and treatment.
Some people are also susceptible to experiencing symptoms beyond the rash and pain. These symptoms are often fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle weakness. In some cases, the rash can spread to the eyes. This is considered serious and should result in immediate consultation with a doctor as it may lead to permanent eye problems if left untreated. The same problem arises if the rash moves to the ears, which can result in possible ear infections. Other bacterial infections are also likely to be picked up through an open skin from the rash.
When should I call a doctor?
If you are experiencing the symptoms of shingles, early treatment is advised. If the rash has moved to the nose, eyes or ears, call a doctor immediately. If you are over 70 years of age or have a weakened immune system, the risk of developing shingles increases, therefore, consulting with your doctor about possible precautionary options is advised.