Shingles Pictures: Recognizing Symptoms of Herpes Zoster

Shingles Pictures: Recognizing Symptoms of Herpes Zoster

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles ( herpes zoster ) and often begins with flu-like symptoms. The characteristic skin rash only appears after a few days, and its appearance can change throughout the disease. In addition, contrary to popular belief, it does not always appear in the form of a belt and the groin, back or stomach area. Instead, the rash occurs where nerve cords are affected by the infection. Shingles can also lead to an itchy rash on the face, leg or eye.

What does shingles look like, can shingles appear without a rash, and how does the rash differ in the early and late stages? The pictures in our photo gallery offer help to make it easier to recognize herpes zoster. If shingles are suspected, medical advice should be sought immediately.

What do shingles look like?

Many people associate shingles with a belt-shaped rash on the trunk. Shingles often spreads from the spine like a band around the upper body or abdomen. This is because the varicella-zoster virus remains inactive in the so-called ganglion cells (often in the area of ​​the spinal cord) after a chickenpox infection and breaks out again there. The virus can also nest in the cranial nerves.

The rash is red at first, but as the disease progresses, blisters filled with fluid develop, which later burst open and become crusted. The rash does not usually appear all over the body, but it can affect several parts of the body at the same time.

Early stage shingles

The disease begins with non-specific symptoms, such as a general feeling of illness, headaches and body aches. A slight fever is also common. After three to five days, dull, pulling or stabbing nerve pain and the typical skin rash appear. The early stages of shingles consist of red, itchy, oval-to-round skin nodules (bumps). Bubbles are not visible at the beginning. These come later.

shingles on the face

Shingles can also appear on the face. If facial nerves are affected by the disease, the typical symptoms can also include signs of paralysis in the face. In addition, the infection can spread to the so-called trigeminal nerve and cause symptoms in the forehead, eyes and nose. Shingles on the face are also referred to as “face roses”.

shingles on the eye

If shingles occur in the eye, the virus can cause conjunctivitis or corneal inflammation. Visual disturbances can also occur if the optic nerve is affected by the infection. An infection of the ophthalmic nerve can trigger shingles in the eye and is, therefore, also known as an ophthalmic zoster.

shingles on the ear

Symptoms of zoster oticus, or shingles in or around the ear, include hearing loss, dizziness, and a rash on the outer ear canal and pinna. If shingles occur in the ear, the virus also affects facial nerves.

shingles on the nose

In the case of problems with the nose, either the ophthalmic nerve, the trigeminal nerve or the nasociliary nerve is affected by shingles. The rash appears on the tip of the nose and the sides of the nose. The eyes and nose are often affected by the infection simultaneously.

The shingles rash can also affect the throat. An infection of the nerves in the face usually accompanies this.

Shingles on or under the breast

Shingles commonly occur on or under the breasts. This usually occurs when the virus spreads through the body via the ganglion cells of the spinal cord.

shingles on the back

In addition to the cranial nerves, the varicella-zoster virus often remains dormant in the cells of the spinal cord in the body. When the virus breaks out, the rash often starts on the back.

shingles on the abdomen

Shingles can also appear on the abdomen. Similar to the spread of the disease to the back and chest, the ganglion cells of the spinal cord are usually first affected by the virus. From there, it then spreads throughout the body.

shingles on the leg

Shingles are also less standard on the leg than on the face, neck, back, or trunk.

shingles on arm

A rash and blisters on the arm, especially with stabbing pain, can indicate shingles. Usually, only one arm is affected.

shingles on hand

The herpes zoster virus travels through the body along the spinal cord or cranial nerve pathways. In this respect, shingles can also appear on the hand. However, this is rarely the case.

End stage shingles

As the disease progresses, fluid-filled blisters have formed on the rash. This liquid becomes cloudy before the bubbles finally burst. The escaping fluid is highly infectious. If the blisters dry up, crusts form on the skin.

Shingles without blisters and rash

A rash does not always have to occur as part of a shingles infection. This form of shingles is called zoster sine herpete. In addition to other symptoms of shingles, there is pain on the skin, but without the otherwise characteristic skin changes.

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