Shingles is a viral infection that manifests as a painful rash. The rash may appear on one side of the body from the middle of the back around one side to the middle of the chest. In addition to the rash, possible symptoms of the condition include pain, burning numbness and tingling. Itching and fluid-filled blisters are also possible symptoms. These blisters may break open and eventually crust. Fever, chills, achiness, headache and fatigue are also symptoms for some individuals with shingles. The cause of shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Even if you've had chicken pox, you may develop shingles. The chicken pox virus may lay dormant for a long time before resurfacing as shingles. The condition is most common in older individuals and those with a weakened immune system.
If you haven't had chicken pox, stay away from individuals with shingles, as the virus may be passed. If you are infected, you will develop chicken pox and not shingles. If you have shingles or chicken pox, it is important that you avoid contact with others, especially newborn babies, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system. Shingles should heal by itself in a couple of weeks, but treatment may help to ease the pain and speed up the healing process. Antiviral drugs may be effective in relieving shingles, with best results often coming if the drugs are taken within 72 hours of the rash's development. Severe pain caused by shingles may require a prescription pain medication.