What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles

Herpes zoster, known as shingles because of its appearance, is an infection that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox ('varicella-zoster'). Once a patient has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in certain nerves in the body and is reactivated when herpes zoster appears. Specifically, rashes in the form of painful blisters appear, following the line of the nerve inflamed by the virus. It is a condition which, although it can affect any age, is more common in older people and those with weakened immune systems. At OneHowTo we show you in detail what the early symptoms of shingles are.

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Steps to follow:


The first sign that a patient is developing a shingles infection is being generally under the weather. It is normal to feel more tired than usual with a slight fever, headache and gastrointestinal problems. You may also experience pain, itching or burning on one side of the body, which gets worse with the passage of time and is often accompanied by an altered sensation in the areas that are on the nerve affected by the virus. These symptoms usually occur between 1-5 days before the rash comes out.

What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles - Step 1

A few days later, a red swelling occurs in the affected area and the main symptom of shingles start to appear: the appearance of painful blisters or vesicles, which are grouped following the path of the affected nerve. Most commonly, the rash appears in a kind of row on one side of the body, either the right or the left, and on the skin of the thoracic or lumbar area. The blister size can be different in each case and also may contain an aqueous liquid.

What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles - Step 2

Typically, after about three days of the rash, the blisters acquire a yellowish tone, dry up and scab over. Still, the healing time will depend on the individual patient. For shingles to disappear completely, it can take up to 15 days or more, and there are even cases where the rash leaves small scars in the form of dimples.


If the virus affects a cranial nerve shingles also can appear on the face, affecting your eyes, nose, forehead, ears and scalp. Although it is rare, if the disease severely affects the eye, it may affect the eyelid and cause severe vision problems. And if shingles spread to the inner ear nerves, the patient may have dizziness, loss of balance and hearing loss. Other symptoms experienced when shingles affect the face are:

  • Difficulty moving some facial muscles.
  • Problems tasting.
  • Eyelid drooping.
  • Hearing impairment.

There is a very serious effect that shingles may cause in some patients, which is called herpetic neuralgia. It is the presence of a permanent or intermittent pain in the affected nerve once the infection has disappeared. This condition is most common in people over 50 years.


If any of the early symptoms of shingles mentioned here present themselves, you should go to your doctor so that they can examine you carefully. A physical examination of the patient will enable a specialist to spot the infection. See the article How to treat herpes zoster for details on the treatment required.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What Are The Early Symptoms Of Shingles