Each year more than one million Americans suffer with shingles, an itchy, blistering rash caused by herpes zoster, the same viral infection that afflicts the nerve roots and causes chickenpox. In fact, those who’ve had the chicken pox, can end up with shingles years later (most likely after the age of 50) due to the fact that the infection can live dormant and become active again due to mounting age, lowered immunity, a treatment (i.e., radiation) or medication that suppress immunity, or an infection (i.e., HIV).
The issue with shingles is that it often mimics other conditions—like poison ivy or scabies—with similar uncomfortable symptoms. However there are a few telling signs that give shingles away, including…
When the shingles virus activates, you will likely break out in a rash that rears its ugly head in the form of painful, fluid-filled blisters, which are often contained to only one side or area of the body. This happens because the virus affects localized nerve roots, typically in the chest, back, buttocks, or neck, and remains directly connected to those exact areas for about 7 to 10 days. Initially, the blisters will be filled with a clear fluid, but after a few days, the fluid will cloud up and take on a darker, murkier hue.
Most patients report that they felt generally unwell in the days leading up to the breakout of the rash, with some saying they developed a mild form of the flu. These flu-like symptoms are usually accompanied with swollen lymph nodes, which may be tender to the touch. If you’ve ever had chicken pox and you develop a flu and swollen lymph nodes, be on the lookout for a rash and visit your doctor ASAP if one develops.