The earliest signs of a shingles outbreak are typically burning, tingling, or itching on any skin of the torso and occasionally areas of the face, according to NIHSeniorHealth. Feeling weak and feverish is sometimes reported before a shingles outbreak as well.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and then remains dormant in central nervous tissue for life, says the Mayo Clinic. Years later, the inactive virus can then erupt to the skin and cause a shingles outbreak. When shingles occurs, symptoms normally occur along specific patches of skin that run along nerve pathways called dermatomes, according to NIHSeniorHealth. The nerve paths branch from the spine where the virus lies dormant, and the skin along these branches will become sensitive or painful before blisters erupt.
Most infections in the body begin with the patient feeling feverish or weak, and this is often the first sign that a shingles outbreak may occur, says NIHSeniorHealth. As the virus travels from the nerve cells to the skin over the course of two or three days, the skin above that area begins to tingle or burn and may become itchy as time goes on. Once these first symptoms begin to appear, visiting a medical professional for treatment can lessen the severity of the outbreak.