Symptoms Of Shingles

Shingles is a virus that affects the nerve and the area of skin around it. It is most common in the over 50’s and particularly the over 80’s, with 11 in 1,000 people suffering from the virus. The overall UK national average for people contracting shingles is three in every 1,000 with children being much less at risk than adults.

Sufferers of shingles can suffer from pain and irritation and if the virus is not properly treated complications can occur such as the lowering of the immune system, loss of pigment and inflammation on the spinal cord and brain. Knowing the symptoms of shingles can help you to receive the correct treatment for the virus and speed up the healing process.

Early symptoms of shingles

Shingles generally affects, but is not limited to, the chest and abdomen. The virus can last between two and four weeks with a tingling sensation in the affected area being the first signs followed by pain and a rash.

The effects of shingles may be felt one to four days before any rash has appeared. These symptoms are known as prodromal and will not affect every sufferer, those that do suffer from these early effects may experience:

  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • A general unwell feeling
  • Itchiness of the skin in the affected area
  • Burning, tingling and numbness in the affected area
  • High temperature of 38°C or over (this only occurs on rare occasions)

Pain as a result of shingles

Pain is one of the main symptoms of shingles; sufferers of the virus will generally feel a dull and constant band of pain in the affected area. The intensity of the pain will range from a mild to severe and will result in sporadic stabbing pains and the area of affected skin becoming tender. This pain can last up to a week before any rash begins to appear.

The pain symptoms are much less common in children and young adults that are otherwise fit and healthy and most affect elderly sufferers.

The rash as a result of shingles

A shingles rash will not present itself as early as some of the other symptoms and will usually follow several days after the pain. The shingles rash will initially appear in the form of red blotches and then will quickly progress into blisters similar to those associated with chickenpox. The rash will develop around the nerve and become itchy and irritable, this will be the case until they dry out and scab over.

The scabs may leave slight scarring on the skin; this is only ever temporary but may take up to four weeks to properly heal.

Visiting your GP with shingles

Most treatment for shingles will be administered by a GP, it is important that you visit your doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms related to shingles. Although many of the symptoms of shingles are mild, seeking treatment early can reduce the severity of the rash and lower the risk of complications as a result of the virus.




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