The beginning symptoms of shingles include burning, pain, tingling, numbness or tickling around the affected nerves, flu-like symptoms, and swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes, according to WebMD. These symptoms occur during what is known as the prodromal stage, which is before the shingles rash appears.
During the pre-rash or prodromal stage, discomfort is typically felt on the back or on the chest, but may occur on one arm or leg, neck, face, head or belly. Flu-symptoms, such as stomachache, diarrhea and chills, may also develop before the rash begins, notes WebMD.
In the active stage of shingles, a small area, band or strip of rash appears, according to WebMD. Its appearance is limited to one side of the body but can occur anywhere on that side. Once the rash has appeared, blisters begin to form. These blisters fill with clear fluid initially, but within three or four days the fluid becomes cloudy, and the blisters ooze, crust over or break open within about five days.
The pain of shingles feels like needles piercing the skin. The associated rash can occur around the eyes or on the nose, cheek or forehead, notes WebMD. Some people, however, experience only a mild rash or do not develop a rash at all.