What are the symptoms of shingles? If you have been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) or have been recently diagnosed with shingles, you may have many questions about your condition. First, what is shingles? Shingles is a form of skin infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The name ‘shingles’ comes from the blisters caused by the virus and the Latin term is ‘shingloes’ which means ‘to shine.’
The majority of people who have shingles will not experience any symptoms at all. However, there are some people who do experience various symptoms. These include pain and burning sensations during the initial breakout, itching, and burning, followed by irritation and soreness. The duration of the outbreaks can vary from one person to another, from several days to months down the road.
What are the symptoms of shingles include in the treatment options? Treatment of shingles will usually involve one or more of the following options. They include:
- Medication to help control the pain, swelling, and burning sensation. This is generally taken to address the rashes associated with shingles. However, it is important to note that medications used for this purpose can also cause side effects in some individuals. It is recommended that you see a doctor before starting a medication regimen to treat shingles.
- Laser surgery. In rare cases, shingles can be treated with laser surgery. This procedure uses light to dry up fluid-filled blisters. Once the blisters have been completely dried up, the skin may be pulled tight, and new skin can be formed over the area. This type of surgery, called photorejuvenation, should be considered as an option only when other treatments have failed.
- Topical or oral antihistamines. Irritation and itching are usually present with shingles and often include a rash. You may experience itching and irritation near the area of injection, which may lead to more problems. If the rash or itching is present near the eye, oral antihistamines may provide relief. As always, consult a physician before beginning a course of medication to treat the early symptoms of shingles.
- Vomiting, severe pain and fever are also common to those experiencing shingles. You may have large amounts of fluid-filled blisters on your skin, or you may experience severe pain and itching in the area where the rash appears. You may also experience nausea or dizziness. If your rash appears near the eye, you should seek immediate medical attention.
- Numbness and tingling pain on one side of the body is another symptom of shingles. It’s important to note that the pain will probably fade as the virus works its way through the body. This area may also start to crack or open slightly. The area is also prone to scabbing if it is scratched. These are the most common side effects of shingles.
- Pain medications may help relieve the pain. Topical anesthetics may help relieve the itching, burning and pain. These medications should not be used to prevent shingles, though.
- The most serious side effect of shingles is the development of a painful rash at the site of the virus. This can look just like a regular sunburn and will likely cover an area of your body from the neck down. This is the point where the blisters begin to develop. If you don’t treat the rash while it is still developing, it could spread to other parts of your body.
- The rash can be a painful experience if it spreads. Make sure that everyone in the household is treated right away if you suspect shingles is the cause. If the blisters do not appear right away, check them frequently for any changes in color or size. If there is a rash or painful skin, avoid scratching it. Scratching can only make the blisters spread faster and may cause the virus to enter deeper into the skin.
- Nodules are another symptom of shingles that look like pimples but are not. They will form in one area on one side of the body or face and become red spots. Look out for lymph nodes near the rash, as they could also contain the virus causing shingles. If you see either of these signs, see your healthcare provider as quickly as possible.