Some shingles patients may feel that they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and this is normal. Such symptoms—nausea, fever, headache, and chills—are common characteristics of the Shingles prodromal stage (prodromal stage describes the types of symptoms that emerge prior to the appearance of rash). This leads us to the question, “What is shingles?”Explaining Shingles
Shingles refers to a viral infection that appears in the form of skin rash (often painful). It could take place over 2 stages, i.e. the prodromal stage and the eruptive stage.
The prodromal stage defines the preceding 2 to 5 days prior to any rash is spotted. Patient going through the prodromal stage may experience the following symptoms:
- Fever, nausea, headache, and chills
- Inactivity, or a sense of numb, may be experienced on one side of the body and/or face
- Tingling, sharp or burning pain sensation on one side of the body and/or face (pain could be either acute or chronic)
- itchiness on one side of the body and/or face
As the disease transcends the prodromal stage, usual symptoms of shingles are swelling and redness where the pain first emerged, alongside clusters of clear-fluid-filled blisters. The development of skin rash with blisters will carry on for few days (typically no longer than 5 days). During this eruptive stage, the blisters can take the form of scattered patches or a complete band on the skin (known clinically as dermatome), and they often resemble chicken pox. Such blisters can be mildly itchy, irritating, or unbearably painful. In less than 2 weeks, pus will fill these blisters and then a scab will form. Thankfully, the presence of pus means that the virus inside the blisters is being removed. It takes another 1 to 3 weeks for the rash to get out of the way. As the blisters heal, no scar mark will be left behind, but patients are very likely to find discoloration of the skin where the blisters once were.
A common characteristic of such blisters and rash is that they happen to just one side of the body. Symptoms of shingles may also manifest on the following body parts:
- One side of the face
- One side of the torso
Shingles can unleash massive pain (to the extent of being unbearable) to the patients. If you notice any symptom of shingles emerging on your body, you should seek out medical help immediately. There are some antiviral prescription medications that are helpful for symptom relief, such as FAMVIR® (famciclovir). For maximum effects, it is advisable to start the medication within 3 days (or 72 hours) from the onset of the rash, why explain why you should not put off that visit to your doctor as soon as symptoms surfaced.
If no treatment is administered to deal with the shingles symptoms, they will subside after 3 to 5 weeks. Some levels of discomfort (and pain) are expected during the time you are infected but these are generally not life threatening. However, what worries the medical practitioners is the potential development of complications from shingles. For example, a localized sharp pain when the blisters are no more there. This is a condition known as post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN is associated with extreme pain and most patients find it very hard to cope with it. The PHN pain will not elapse quickly. It is persistent and can last for months, and even years.
If you are 50 years and above, taking prescription FAMVIR (tablet form which makes it easy to swallow) could play a huge part in cutting short your exposure to PHN and reduce the ‘pain period’. As another reminder, FAMVIR works best when patient starts the medication within 3 days (72 hours) after the first appearance of shingles symptoms.