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What are the early warning signs of a shingles attack?

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Quick Answer

The earliest warning signs of shingles are pain, itching or tingling in a specific area of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This may occur one to five days before the rash appears.

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Full Answer

A shingles rash typically appears as a stripe around one side of the body, states the CDC. It may also occur on one side of the face, or rarely, it can cover multiple areas of the body like a chickenpox rash. Shingles can also affect the eye, leading to permanent vision problems. The rash usually forms blisters, scabs in seven to 10 days, and completely heals in two to four weeks. Other associated symptoms include upset stomach, headache, fever and chills.

If shingles is diagnosed early, anti-viral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir or famciclovir, can be prescribed to shorten the length and decrease the severity of symptoms. Pain medications may be used to treat discomfort associated with the shingles rash, while calamine lotion, colloidal oatmeal baths and wet compresses may relieve itching, advises the CDC. Individuals can reduce their risk of developing shingles by getting a shingles vaccine, which is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older. The shingles vaccine is typically administered in a doctor's office or pharmacies.

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