• Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Symptoms


Local Shingles (Herpes zoster) symptoms occur in fairly isolated areas of the skin, usually in a single dermatome (the area served by a single spinal nerve), on one side of the body.

Prodromal Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Symptoms

  • Prodrome is the period before rash appears and generally lasts for 2-3 days, but occasionally may even last up to 2 weeks.
  • Few constitutional symptoms like low-grade fever, headache, malaise, fatigue, etc. (flu-like symptoms) may also develop along with Shingles( Herpes Zoster) symptoms.
  • The skin feels painfully sensitive and often the patient can't bear clothes touching the affected area is the most significant feature amongst Shingles(Herpes Zoster) symptoms.
  • It affects one side of the body during an outbreak and never crosses the midline, which is because of the layout of the nerves that it affects. This is called "dermatomal pattern".

Early Stage of Disease

  • Following the prodrome, in 2 to 3 days after the virus has reached the skin, there appears a red rash with much soreness and sensitivity of the skin.
  • The rash increases over the next 3 to 5 days, after which it progresses to form clusters of small fluid-filled blisters called vesicles or sores on the skin in the form of a band, only on one side of the body. This is because they come out on the area of skin, which is supplied by one particular nerve that is affected by the virus.


  • The rash may affect any part of the body, most commonly the chest, along a single dermatome.
  • The rash may appear in a strip-like manner around one side of the chest, back or abdomen; down an arm or leg or on the head. Outbreaks around the mouth, on face, neck, in and around ears and on scalp are common.
  • When lesions are seen on the trunk, it appears in the form of a belt extending from the spine to chest.
Definition of Herpes Zoster

Later Stage of Disease

  • Vesicular eruptions with pain may last from 1-14 days. After a few days, they break open and start to ooze. Later, they form small ulcers that begin to dry and crust over. This is the most characteristic feature amongst Shingles (Herpes Zoster) symptoms.
  • Crusting of the lesions occurs before the lesions get completely resolved. The crusts then fall off and generally heal in 2-4 weeks, leaving behind pink healing skin.
  • In severe cases, the rash leaves permanent scars and pale discoloration on the skin.
  • Unbearable pain and depression is quite common in patients with Shingles (Herpes Zoster) symptoms.

Other associated Shingles (Herpes Zoster) symptoms include:

  • Changes in taste
  • Impaired hearing
  • Pain in joints
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Genital lesions
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