What Does Shingles Look Like

Shingles is caused by the same virus that affects 90% of all children with chickenpox, herpes varicella-zoster. This virus remains dormant in the nerve tissue after chickenpox and can be reactivated in later life following a weakening of the immune system; this will result in a person needing treatment to ease the symptoms of pain and irritation. The shingles virus is best dealt with as early as possible so that the correct treatment can be given to reduce the severity of the condition, a commonly question is “what does shingles look like?” knowing the answer can help you to seek medical advice as soon as an outbreak appears.

The early symptoms of shingles

Before answering “what does shingles look like?” it is important to know the symptoms that are felt prior to any rash appearing. Early symptoms of the shingles virus will be a feeling of being generally un-well along with headaches and a sensitivity, burning and tingling sensation in the affected area. There is also sometimes a stabbing pain that will also affect the area of the infected nerve. These symptoms are likely to last several days before a rash appears and you should seek medical advice immediately if are suffering from similar feelings.

Early shingles rash

The shingles rash will almost always appear on the left or right side of the body mostly on the chest, abdomen or ribcage, less common occasions may affect the face, neck, arms or legs. The first signs of the rash will be an inflammation and redness around the affected area followed by small red spots which are slightly raised. The red blotchy spots will often form in a band following the route of an infected nerve.

Shingles blisters

The next part of “what does shingles look like?” looks at the blisters. The original red spots generally only last one or two days before progressing into blisters, these can be painful and sore to the touch. The shingles rash closely resembles the chickenpox rash and blisters will be filled with clear of cloudy fluid. These blisters will continue to form for approximately five days and older blisters will burst, weep and dry out forming crusty scabs. The skin around the blisters will also become inflamed due to the infection of the virus. It is important to keep the shingles rash as dry and as clean as possible this will help to prevent the chances of bacterial infection and speed up recovery.

Healing blisters

The third stage of “what does shingles look like?” is the appearance of the blisters when they begin to heal. As blisters dry out they form a crust which can be extremely itchy, the crust will eventually drop off leaving the skin healed. This process can take up to 5 weeks but can be helped by the use of cold compresses and wet dressings along with ointments such as calamine lotion which can help to dry the skin out quicker and provide relieve from the itchiness and irritation.




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