Shingles Symptoms

The rash isn't always the first sign of Shingles.

For some people, the first sign of Shingles may be a pain, tingling, or an itchy feeling on a specific part of the skin, on a single side of the body. This sensation may last from two to three days. The Shingles rash typically appears on the same part of the skin where the initial symptoms were felt.

Once the rash appears, the pain can become more severe.

The Shingles rash may begin as fluid-filled blisters similar to chickenpox blisters. These may be in a band or a cluster, or even be just a few blisters here and there. The pain associated with the Shingles rash can be constant, or it can come and go. Sometimes the pain is so intense that even a slight breeze can cause discomfort. The rash itself may range from mild to severe.

Here is a mild case of Shingles.

See more photos of the Shingles rash.

The number of blisters varies with each case of Shingles. Sometimes the blisters merge, forming a solid red band that looks like a severe burn. In some cases of Shingles, only a few scattered blisters appear.

Here is a moderate case of Shingles.

See more photos of the Shingles rash.

Because the virus that causes Shingles travels through the nerves, the Shingles rash always follows the path of nerve endings. That's why the rash most often appears along a single side of the body and usually does not cross the middle of one's body. The band like appearance of the rash is what gives Shingles its name. The word Shingles comes from the Latin word cingulum, which means girdle or belt.

Here is a severe case of Shingles.

See more photos of the Shingles rash.

Usually, Shingles blisters take between 2 to 4 weeks to turn to scabs and heal.

Sometimes the pain of Shingles can linger for months, or even years.

For most healthy people, after the Shingles rash heals, the pain and itch subside, and the blisters leave without a trace. But in some cases, even after the rash heals, there can be permanent scarring or changes to the
skin pigment. And in some cases, there may be lingering pain that can last for months, or even years. This condition is called PHN, or postherpetic neuralgia.