Shingles start with itching, burning, tingling, or painful feelings in a band-like area. The skin rash appears 3 to 4 days after you notice these symptoms.

Early symptoms happen about 3 to 4 days before the rash. During this time, you may have:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Discomfort in the skin, usually on one side of the face, torso, trunk, back, or buttocks. You may feel:
    • Numbness
    • Itching
    • Burning
    • Stinging
    • Tingling
    • Shooting pain
    • Electric shock
    • Sharp pain
    • Extreme sensitivity to even light touch

This period starts when you first notice a rash in the same area as the early symptoms:

  • The rash begins as a reddish band or individual bumps in a line.
  • The bumps get fluid-filled centers.
  • Over the course of 7 to 10 days, the bumps dry and crust over.
  • You may have pain and itching in the area of the rash; the pain may be severe.
  • If the rash is on the side of your nose or other parts of your face, you should call your doctor right away. This can be a sign that your eye is affected.

The rash of active shingles should be gone within a week to a month. About 20% of people have pain after the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. It can be severe and limit activities.

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