Shingles appears as a skin rash characterized by pain and blistering. It starts with pain and tenderness over a particular zone of the skin (hence the name zona). The skin then turns red and breaks out in tiny fluid-filled blisters.
The rash can last from days to weeks. The blisters gradually dry out and form a scaly crust. Once the attack is over, the skin usually returns to normal, but some scarring may occur in severe cases.
Shingles is a contagious illness and can spread when a person comes into contact with fluid contained in the blisters. The virus can be spread by direct contact with the lesions or by touching any dressings, sheets or clothes soiled with discharge from the spots.
Sometimes, a complication of this condition may develop and is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. What happens is that the pain doesn’t improve once the shingles rash has cleared. This is more likely to occur when the shingles rash appeared on the face rather than the body. This type of shingles rash tends to affect the skin around the eye and occasionally, the eye itself.
Postherpetic neuralgia can last for months or years. Capsaicin creams can help. Pain-relieving medication or tablets specific for nerve pain may be needed.