General Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What was it like to have Shingles?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (26666points) 3 weeks ago

If you have had it before:
-What were the symptoms?
-How long did it last?
-Did you go to the doctor?
-If so, were you given any medication?
-What helped relieve the itching?
-Has it ever reoccurred?

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26 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

It was horrific ,lasted about a month,it was like the worst rash I ever had and someone was holding a red hot knife to that rash.

No it hasn’t reoccured, THANK GOD.

And essential silver gel soothed it greatly,along with the prescribed drugs the Doctor put me on.

canidmajor's avatar

Itchy, painful. It was on my face (never underestimate the soothing power of a bag of frozen peas). I went to the doctor, was prescribed steroids and anti-virals, they helped in a few days, the lesions were completely cleared up in 10–12 days.
Then I had crushing fatigue for about 5 months.
It hasn’t recurred, at least the lesions haven’t, but sometimes I get spells of the same kind of fatigue, it might last a week or so. My doctor thinks those might be connected.
I plan to get the high-powered new vaccine, Shingrix, in the spring.

Not much fun.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Yeah I forgot about the bone crushing fatigue, I worked during my bout with it but could only do three of my four shifts my boss was quite understanding and had another driver fill in for the fourth.
I am not kidding about the essential silver gel it made it a lot easier to deal with.

canidmajor's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer, I hope this Q is intellectual curiosity…:-(

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I agree @canidmajor I wouldn’t wish shingles on even Trump that is how bad it is.

janbb's avatar

Deos anyone know if more of the Shingrix vaccine is available yet? I heard it is in short supply.

mazingerz88's avatar

All I can remember was my primary doctor prescribed a drug for a different problem and it gave me shingles. I never ever had it until then and was stunned as to how painful it was!

Changed the way I think whenever I see the commercials about treating shingles. I also wouldn’t wish it on my enemies, that’s how painful it was for me. ( well not all enemies I guess…lol )

I was lucky ( I realized ) to get it on my back near the right armpit since I heard some people get it on their faces?!

When it hurt it came in jolts that electrified the whole body and the nerves around where the shingles were felt like very hot thin wires! The cutting and jolting pain lasted only seconds followed by a strong sensation of sudden fatigue. Weird.

I just couldn’t imagine it wreaking havoc on someone’s face!

chyna's avatar

My brother in North Carolina got his. It’s a two shot series. My sister in law in Indiana got hers too. My doctor can’t keep it in supply.
As a side note, my brother said it really hurt, SIL said it didn’t hurt at all. Some men are wusses.

canidmajor's avatar

Actually, @mazingerz88, there are some advantages to getting it on the face. No clothes to irritate it, easy to reach to plop a bag of frozen peas on, no pressure on it from chairs and stuff. It was really icky to look at, but it didn’t really have a chance to spread too far before we were treating it.
The neighborhood children, however, were scared shitless of me. Go figure.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wound up with them not long after I was released from the hospital in late 2012. They ran under my breasts and wrapped around the side. It wasn’t splendid, but it wasn’t unbearable either. I guess I had a light case or something, because it wasn’t anything like other people describe. To me, having poison ivy is a lot worse.

What were the symptoms? It was itchy.

How long did it last? About 2 weeks I think.

Did you go to the doctor? Yes, although I already had an idea of what it was.

If so, were you given any medication? I don’t remember. Knowing me I probably put Calydryl on it or something. Treated it like poison ivy.

What helped relieve the itching? Hot, hot water.

Has it ever reoccurred? No it has not,but I also got some shot to prevent it soon after mine disappeared. However, I haven’t had any follow up shots or anything.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’ve never dealt with shingles myself.thank God & (knock on wood). My Gram’s sister had a flare up EVERY year for over 10 years. Hers were a red rash that often looked like blisters or bug bites. She said they were VERY painful!!! Hers often lasted a month. My favorite waitress had them, she went to the doctor & hers were gone in 3–4 days. They often run down one side of the body.

The shot is VERY expensive & I think you have to wait a minimum of 6 months after a flare up before they will let you take the shot. Since shingles runs in my family & I had initially had a severe case of Chicken Pox, I had planned on getting the shot. My doctor recommended that I not get it as she said that although the shot may help, it is NOT guaranteed & she wasn’t convinced that it was safe!!!

Example

JLeslie's avatar

Extremely itchy. I didn’t have what I would call pain, but thecarea felt inflamed. The itch is so overwhelming though that that is what stands out most. It was hard to work. It was on my back buttocks, and I would lean against a wall to put pressure on it to keep from scratching. I worked retail at the time, I was in my early to mid 20’s. It was a small area. I think about 2 inches by 1.5 inches.

The first time I think it lasted almost 4 weeks. The doctor diagnosed me incorrectly and gave me antibiotics. Idiot.

Months later the area still had some faint redness, and I was at the dermatologist for something totally unrelated and told him about it, and he said, “if it happens in the same spot again it’s probably shingles.” It dud happen agains several months later, and I had to go to the GYN for something else, and asked him to look at what thought might be shingles. He started to say, “no you…,” and then when I showed him he said, “oh wait…give me…,” the nurse gave him what he asked for and he took a sample to be cultured.. Results—positive for shingles.

Thank goodness for that dermatologist and that I had a GYN appointment by coincidence with a doctor who wasn’t an idiot either. He prescribed me meds.

Sometimes I feel the tingle there and I think it’s happening again. Sometimes it does flare up again when I feel it sometimes it doesn’t. I try to hoard the medicine so I don’t need to go to the doctor again. They overprescribe I have found out over the years.

So, it always was in the same place until about 9 years ago, when I started to get itch on my left cheek and forehead and the top of my head. I would show my husband my head telling him to check if I had a bug bite in my hair. He would say no. I would stratch the area sometimes, it would have almost a pinpont scab like a mosquito bite. This happened two or three times and then would go away.

Finally, one morning, my forehead felt inflamed in a small area, and still itchy. I thought maybe a pimple was coming on. A weird spot for that. I put a dab of alcohol that night. I also had been feeling a weird “headache” for a couple of days, and I had had that before in recent years. The next morning, in the mirror I knew what it was! It was a Sunday morning, and I yelled for my husband that I had to go to urgent care. On my forehead, just above my left eyebrow. I know you can lose your sight from it. I had to get meds, I couldn’t just wait it out to avoid a doctor visit.

It was shingles as I thought. The doctor asked, “do you have it on top of your head too?” Now, I put it altogether. That mosquito bite in my hair I kept making my husband look for was shingles. All along the trigeminal nerve.

In summary it sucks, but I’m grateful it is only a small area when it happens to me. I sometimes get it three times in a year, and then not for 4 or 5 years. I had always been happy it wasn’t on my face, but in recent years it is. I think people with chronic “headache” pain on one side, and trigeminal nerve pain that doesn’t fit other diagnosis should consider it might be undiagnosed shingles.

I fear as I age it will get much worse. For now, when it happens, it usually last about 7 days if I start the medicine by the second or third day. I still have tingle afterwards for weeks and months very often.

I wash my hands well when I have it and avoid young children and babies.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks all for responding.

I have an appt. this morning to get checked. I have no idea whether it is shingles or not.

The rash started four months ago. It crept down my whole back, then sparingly all over one side. Then it started to fade. Two weeks later, it started up again; all down my back, side, and now upper chest, arms and shins.

It doesn’t look like poison ivy at all. There is no blistering. It’s just little spots like bug bites that result in tiny scabs.

There has been no pain, no fatigue. Just non-stop itching.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Is it on one side of your body? You said whole back, so I’m thinking it’s both sides. Shingles typically is one side. It travels down the nerve. Mine is right side on my body and left side on my head. You probably know our left side of our brain controls the right side of our body and vice versa.

The blistering should have resolved on it’s own if it’s shingles. There can still be redness left behind though and “pain” for many months.
Shingles doesn’t usually “creep” over long periods of time.

Are you taking a new medication? New laundry soap or dryer sheet? You have probably thought of these things. Bed bugs a possibility? Back and waist often have clothing pressing against them for long periods during the day.

It doesn’t sound like shingles to me, but I’m no expert. Let us know what happens.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It is all over my back, not in streaks, thus why I dismissed it as shingles. It isn’t bedbugs or any other bug bites. I think it is an allergic reaction to something, and I just haven’t figured out what. I just want to sure that it isn’t shingles by getting a medical opinion. I’ll let you all know this afternoon.

JLeslie's avatar

I definitely agree you should see a doctor. Not only for diagnosis, but for some treatment.

Did you try using different laundry soap?

Does your head itch? If so it could be your shampoo or conditioner. My husband wound up itching all over from shampoo. It built up over a few days. I had given him the shampoo because I was allergic, but I knew right away on my head. His reaction wasn’t as fierce as mine, so he used the shampoo longer, but days of it running across his body when rinsing and it got to him. Because I had had the allergic reaction I put 2 and 2 together fast regarding his itch and irritation, but he had thought he was developing some sort of rash.

janbb's avatar

My friend had something like that for weeks and could never get a good diagnosis. Eventually it went away.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

No itchy scalp. I suspect it was the laundry detergent used in late July. The family was at the beach for a week in a rented house. The night before departure, I washed everything in the detergent someone brought. Some of the clothes have been worn since then. That may explain why this has dragged on.

Right now, I just want to hear that it isn’t shingles, as that could delay my return to England. I’d also love to get some relief from the itching.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You’re intelligent and educated…if you think it’s shingles, it probably is.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dutchess_III Thanks for that, but I’m really neither. It’s just a matter of doing some basic research, which includes checking with the collective. Logic says that it isn’t shingles. Hopefully the medical professional will know.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Shingles for the most part follows ONE nerve path,you won’t get it on both sides of your body,but by all means go to a doctor and have them tell you that and not a middle aged truck driver.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks again all. And @SQUEEKY2, thanks for the laugh.

The good news is that it definitely isn’t shingles. It isn’t an allergic reaction either.

It is allegedly some mystery rash called Pityriasis Rosea. Two prescriptions were issued. One is for hydrocortisone at a slightly higher percentage than can be bought over-the-counter. The other is some type of tablet to also help with the itching. The doctor said it should clear up fairly quickly due to the amount of time that it has already been in effect. We’ll see.

canidmajor's avatar

Good to hear, @Pied_Pfeffer, I wish for you to be spotless soon!

JLeslie's avatar

Hoping for a speedy recovery.

Esedess's avatar

Wasn’t that bad.. I had a mild case when I was 24. Stress related I think. It was a weird sensation. Periodic sharp deep pain that I could only wince or laugh in pain at.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That was about my experience too. Occasionally it stabbed like hell, but only briefly.

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