What Are the First Signs of a Shingles Rash?

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The first signs of a shingles rash are unusual sensations in the affected area, including numbness, burning, tingling, sensitivity to touch or pain, explains Mayo Clinic. The pain of these initial symptoms can be quite severe. These symptoms often appear a few days before any visible rash occurs.

Some people with shingles never manifest any further symptoms than the initial sensations, states Mayo Clinic. Depending on their location, these symptoms can initially be mistaken for problems in internal organs such as the lungs, heart or kidneys. When further symptoms develop, they include itching, blisters filled with fluid that burst and crust over, and a red rash. In some cases, sensitivity to light, fever, headache or fatigue are also present. The most common manifestation of shingles is a stripe of blisters that wraps around either side of the torso, but it can also occur around one of the eyes or on the neck or face.

Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox, says Mayo Clinic. In people who have had chickenpox, the virus can stay dormant for years in nerves near the spinal cord before erupting again as shingles. Shingles cannot be cured, but treatments with anti-viral drugs can reduce the severity of symptoms.