By Dr. Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.
The incidence of shingles is about 4 in a thousand in the US. Those who suffer, generally suffer miserably. It is important to know the symptoms, because the sooner you can get treatment, the easier it is to get on top of it, and the faster it should heal.
It may start with a tingling or tickling sensation in the same area weeks before the outbreak occurs. This can become painful, burning, throbbing or shooting. Just before you realize you have shingles, you may get a fever, chills, fatigue, swollen, tender lymph nodes and/or weakness. Then the angry red rash shows up. It is usually on the chest, back or belly, but can also show on the neck, face, or anywhere. This is followed by the more painful phase, the blisters. During this stage you can give it to someone else. Resist the urge to scratch at the blisters to prevent it spreading.
As it is healing, it gets crusty. Resist the urge to pick the scab off because, like chicken pox, it can leave an unsightly scar. Generally, as the rash and blisters disappear, the pain does as well, but not always.
Post-herpatic neuralgia (PHN) is when the pain continues after the rash and blisters are gone. It can continue to be painful for years. It is most likely in individuals with weakened immune systems.
Drugs are generally the most common approach to treatment, but there are other solutions, either individually or in combination with meds.