Signs and Symptoms of Shingles

The first symptoms of shingles (zoster) are usually pain, burning, and discomfort in the area of nerve distribution. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and they generally precede the eruption of a rash by several days.

Shingles rash usually occurs as a band-like eruption on one side of the body. Redness develops first, followed by bumps that rapidly become water blisters that become pus filled.

The lesions scab over and heal in about a week. Persistent, severe pain after the rash has subsided—called postherpetic neuralgia—occurs in 10 to 15 percent of cases and is common in the elderly.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Sep 2000

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015