Shingles usually begins with an unpleasant itching, burning, tingling, or painful sensation in a band-like area. The skin rash of shingles begins to appear 3-4 days after you notice these skin sensations.
Symptoms of the Prodromal Period
The prodromal period is the time about 3-4 days before the rash actually occurs. During this time, you may have the following symptoms:
Symptoms of Active Shingles
The period of active shingles begins when you first notice a rash in the same location where you felt the skin sensations:
The rash of active shingles should be gone within a week to a month. About 20% of people continue to have pain and discomfort after the rash has healed. This syndrome of pain in the area of the previously infected nerve is called postherpetic neuralgia. It can be severe and debilitating.
Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113997/Herpes-zoster. Updated September 19, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
NINDS shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/shingles.htm. Updated January 10, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/shingles. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html. Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, et al. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0415/p2437.html. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2016 by James Cornell, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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