The Stages of Shingles

A lot of people contract the herpes zoster virus or the chickenpox while they are still younger. Shingles is a disease that involves the “reactivation” of the virus. The symptoms of the illness include sensitivity to light, flu-like symptoms minus the fever and headache. Other signs of shingles include red, itchy rashes, scabs and blisters. The illness comes with different stages of shingles.

There are 3 known stages of shingles and for each phase, the symptoms also vary. There could be times when health care workers mistake shingles for flu or a cold. In rare cases, it is also even mistaken as symptoms of heart attack.

Prodromal

During the beginning part of the condition, tickling, pain, burning, numbness and tingling may be experienced on some areas of the body before the rashes appear. In other cases, flu-like symptoms are also experienced along with stomachache, swelling of the lymph nodes and chills.

Active or Eruptive

During these different phases, the first strips or bands of rash will show on the body and usually appears along one side of the body. Typical areas include the face and the torso. After some time, the rash will then become blisters. At first, the fluid inside blisters may look clear but turns cloudy after 3 to 4 weeks. There is severe discomfort and excruciating pain that comes with the rashes. After around 5 days, the blisters will start to crust. During this stage of shingles, the rashes will disappear as short as 2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks.

Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

This stage is where chronic pain is experienced for severe shingles cases. This last phase is characterized by extreme pain, stabbing, persistent pain, burning and intense sensitivity to touch which can be experienced for as long as 30 days.

Warning

The most infectious stages of shingles is the active or eruptive phase. This is the time when a person who is suffering with shingles gains the biggest chance or contracting it to others who have never experienced chicken pox in their life or those people who have a weak immune system. The risk of infection increases when the blisters begin breaking and oozing with fluid. In addition to that, it is also possible that the shingles virus can find their way into a person’s eyes which may cause permanent damage. The illness does not really need hospitalization but it needs some ways to control the pain and to prevent further infection and complications.