There are a total of 30 dermatomes in the body that individually service parts of the face, scalp, arms, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks, groin, tailbone, genitals, and feet. Shingles is typically constrained to one of these areas, causing a rash that looks similar to chickenpox.
But even as sores begin to heal, new clusters of blisters can continue to form. Depending on the severity of an outbreak, shingles can three to five weeks to progress through all of its stages.
Moreover, the nerves that VZV inhabits are sensory ganglia whose function is to send sensory information from the skin to the brain.
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Shingles on the face: Symptoms, treatment, and causes
These include conditions like:
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Shingles or Something Else?
While your healthcare provider may prescribe treatment based on the presumption of shingles, it is important to undergo a complete evaluation to ensure some other condition (requiring a whole different course of treatment) is not involved.
Over the course of the next 48 hours, the blisters will start to turn cloudy and increase in number and size. Many will converge into larger blisters and/or rupture, leaving behind a raw, indented, oozing ulcer.
People over 60s are at the greatest risk, which is why shingles vaccination is recommended for adults 50s and over. There is no cure for postherpetic neuralgia, but different medications can help ease the pain.
What Shingles Looks Like
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision. If the shingles virus attacks the ear, people may develop hearing or balance problems. In rare cases, the shingles virus may attack the brain or spinal cord. These complications can often be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible.
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Scratching shingles blisters—or scabs as the rash heals—increases your risk of a secondary bacterial infection. Secondary infections are relatively easy to establish when bacteria beneath the fingernails are introduced into exposed tissue within a sore. This can slow healing times and even lead to permanent scarring.
Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Shingles
Despite these tell-tale signs, shingles is often confused with other skin conditions. This can result in delayed treatment, which, in turn, can lead to a longer or more severe outbreak.
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Though rare, shingles can affect more than multiple dermatomes. This can lead to widespread shingles across the body. When shingles occur in more than one dermatome, it may be an indication of immunosuppression.
Soon after the onset of prodromal symptoms, slightly reddish patches of skin with small bumps ( papules ) will develop in a cluster in the areas of pain. These often look like pimples or an allergic rash but are differentiated by sharp, needle-like pain, particularly if you scratch or pick at them.
Learn about Shingles from someone who experienced it. One main symptom …
This article describes what a shingle rash looks like at different stages of the infection. It also lists other conditions that look like shingles and explains what to expect after a shingles rash has cleared.
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Once a herpes blister ruptures, the secreted fluid will crystalize and form a honey-colored crust. A scab will form underneath, stemming the oozing fluid and allowing the ulcer to heal. The healing of the sore and shedding of the scab takes a week to 10 days.
The pain is caused by both the inflammation and the overstimulation of nerves by the virus. This differs from rashes that originate in skin cells in which nerves are affected collaterally rather than directly.