Early indications of shingles occur between one and five days before the rash appears. At this time, a person will experience itching, tingling, or stabbing pain in the area where the rash will develop.
Commonly, the shingles rash appears on either the right or left side of the body. It can also form across one side of the face. In people with immunodeficiency, the rash can be more extensive on the body. Additional symptoms of shingles resemble those of chickenpox, including fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach.
It is unknown what causes the varicella zoster virus to reactivate in the body later in life. Unlike chickenpox, shingles is not contagious and cannot pass between people. Although, when a person has shingles that is in the blister stage, the virus can spread from that person to someone who has never had chickenpox.
Vaccination is the only known treatment to reduce the risks of shingles. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults over fifty years of age have the shingles vaccine administered twice.
Treatments for shingles include antiviral medicines. These drugs can shorten the duration of the shingles outbreak as well as mitigate some of its symptoms. For the best results, the time to consult a physician about treatments is at the earliest appearance of symptoms of shingles. Home remedies that dermatologists suggest to relieve the discomfort of shingles include wet compresses, oatmeal baths, and calamine lotions.