How Do I Know If I Have Shingles?

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Pain, tingling, numbness and sensitivity to touch are some of the first symptoms of a shingles outbreak, as reported by Mayo Clinic experts. Shingles also causes a red rash and the formation of fluid-filled blisters that eventually crust over.

Varicella-zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox, triggers shingles outbreaks. Once someone is infected with chickenpox, the virus does not leave the body. Instead, it lies dormant in the roots of the nerves. In some people, the virus becomes active again, causing a rash to form around the affected nerve, as explained by WebMD. As a result, shingles symptoms are usually limited to a small area on one side of the body, according to staff members from Mayo Clinic.

The very first symptoms of shingles occur during the prodromal stage, or the stage before a shingles rash develops. Chills, diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms sometimes occur during this stage. Pain, numbness, tingling and tickling occur around the affected nerves for anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the rash develops, according to WebMD.

The active stage comes after the prodromal stage. During the active stage, a rash appears on one side of the body. In some people, the rash develops around one of the eyes, increasing the risk for vision problems. After fluid-filled blisters form, they break open and usually crust over within five days. The rash typically heals within two to four weeks, as stated by WebMD.