Typically, a person with shingles will develop a characteristic rash. Shingles often appears with a rash of small, fluid-filled blisters that resemble chickenpox. The most common locations for this rash to appear include the chest, back, and waist. Generally, the blisters break open, ooze, and finally crust over. For most people, the rash heals completely and leaves no scars.
An Overview of the Shingles Rash
After a couple of days of early shingles symptoms, a rash of small fluid-filled blisters, reminiscent of chickenpox, may appear on reddened skin. This "shingles rash" seems to arrive in waves over the next three to five days. The blisters may then break open, ooze, and finally crust over. For most people, the rash heals completely, leaving no scars.
The shingles rash can appear anywhere; however, blisters are usually limited to a specific band (called a dermatome) spanning one side of the body and in a very specific area. The common areas for the shingles rash include the chest, back, ribcage, waist, or the head or neck area (face, ears, mouth, eyes, or tongue). Shingles symptoms are less common on the lower body.
This rash may occur along with pain. Shingles pain can be mild or intense and is often described as unrelenting. Many shingles patients say that it was the intense pain that ultimately sent them to the doctor. They often report that the sensation of anything brushing across the inflamed nerve endings on the skin is almost unbearable.
In rare cases, it is possible to have shingles pain without the rash.
For most people with a rash from shingles, the following recovery pattern occurs:
- The blisters continue to form for three to five days
- The skin returns to normal after two to four weeks
- The pain subsides within one to five weeks.