Shingles is known by many names; zoster, herpes zoster and zona. It is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the virus responsible for chickenpox. It usually appears as a painful rash on one side of the face or body. Shingles often includes three stages of symptoms: the prodrome, the active stage and the postherpetic neuralgia.
The prodrome stage is experienced before the rash appears, and is characterized by:
- Pain, tingling, burning, numbness or itching in the area where the rash will appear.
- Flu-like symptoms, including headache, fatigue, fever, chills and stomach upset.
The active stage is characterized by:
- The rash, which is red, raised and contains small fluid-filled blisters.
- Itching, burning or severe pain.
- Possible swelling, redness, warmth and tenderness of the skin surrounding the rash.
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and stomach upset.
Postherpetic Neuralgia Stage
The postherpetic neuralgia stage is experienced after the rash and blisters have healed, and is characterized by:
- Chronic pain at the rash site.
- Itching and numbness at the rash site.
- Sensory disturbances, such as the feeling that your skin is being touched when it is not.
Shingles can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition. It is important to address the symptoms of each stage promptly and seek proper medical care. With the right treatment and medication, the pain and discomfort associated with shingles can be managed, and the chances of complications and postherpetic neuralgia can be minimized.