I’ve had shingles three times. The very first time, I had no clue what it was. Each time thereafter I did. There have been clear signs that I was going to have a case. In advance of the rash, I felt generally unwell. My most recent outbreak was on the left side of my head, and was preceded by an earache, headache and sore throat just on that side. Each time, the skin in the area where the rash would soon appear was extremely sensitive and sometimes felt almost as a burning sensation, but very mild.
Once the rash appears, there can be itching and sharp stinging. Sometimes the stinging is enough to make me say ouch! Even after the rash clears up, there’s still some stinging and itching. It eventually wears off, but I still have itching on my head where the rash used to be. Certain spots are still extremely sensitive at times.
I’ve been told that it’s necessary to start an anti-viral such as Famvir as soon as possible to lessen the likelihood of post herpetic neuralgia, but that it will not be effective if started too late. If the rash has been present for more than 3 days, it may not do any good to be on an anti-viral. Some myeloma patients are on an anti-viral persistently in an effort to prevent the ocurrance of shingles. I’ve not done that, because I don’t like the side effects of the drug Famvir, which gives me headaches.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same thing that causes chicken pox. If you have never had chicken pox, you won’t get shingles. You can get chicken pox from someone who has shingles though!
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