Shingles Symptoms

Shingles is identifiable by the way it looks and feels on the body. Early signs of shingles may include:

  • Itching,
  • Burning,
  • And tingling with pain in the area where the rash will develop.

You could feel this several days before the rash appears. The painful, blistering rash usually erupts in a single stripe on either the left or right side of the face or body, along a nerve path. It could develop on the torso, arms, thighs, or head (including the ears or eyes). The most common places are the chest and abdomen. People describe the pain as aching, burning, stabbing, or shock-like.


Click on the video above to watch Larry’s shingles story. This is Larry’s experience and symptoms may vary. View Video Transcript

 [VO] My name is Larry Bone. When I was four years old, my dad took me to the shoreline of Lake Rogerene in northern New Jersey and handed me a fishing pole. I keep a rod and I keep a tacklebox in the back of the car, so I’ll stop and I’ll pull off the side of the road and I’ll throw a line in. You never know what you’re going to pull out. It’s a good way to just kind of meditate, whatever. It’s a passion, I guess.

[VO] It was 2004. I was living on my own in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I had a little house up there. I woke up one morning and I had this blister on my eye. It’s rather strange, rather uncomfortable, and it was this big, water-filled thing and I thought, “I don’t like this.”

[VO] When my doctor first told me I had the shingles, I didn’t really think a whole lot of it. Three days later, that was the end of me. I was vomiting, couldn’t move, couldn’t get up. I lost two weeks of my life. Shingles was like almost beyond description. Totally, completely debilitated. When you felt that bad, you don’t have a real good frame of reference for what feeling good is like. If there’s anything you can do to not end up in that situation, do it. Don’t play games. It’s not something you want to end up with. Take some form of action.

[Text] You can prevent shingles. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist today about getting vaccinated.

Image of man walking near a pond

Shingles was almost beyond description. Totally, completely debilitated.”

Larry Bone, former shingles sufferer and GSK spokesperson

The Signs and Symptoms of Shingles

Icon: Early signs of shingles symptoms

Early Signs

Early shingles symptoms may include headache, intolerance to light, and generally feeling unwell. Fever may also occur. The most common symptoms are abnormal skin sensations and pain of varying severity in the area where the rash will develop.

Icon: Shingles blisters

The Rash

The rash forms in a couple of days, progressing to blisters and then crusting over. Usually, the rash lasts seven to 10 days, and completely heals within two to four weeks.

Icon: Shingles causing pain

The Pain

Shingles pain can be described as “aching, burning, stabbing, or shock-like.”

Icon: Consequences of shingles


A potential consequence of shingles is pain that can be long-term and severe after the shingles rash disappears.

What Does Shingles Feel Like?

Icon: itchy hand


Unbearable itching is frequently reported.

Icon: Sensitivity to touch

Sensitivity to Touch

Even with very light contact, the shingles rash can cause pain.

Icon: Pain and burning


Pain can be described as aching, burning, and stabbing.

Image of woman thinking about what causes shingles

Find Out What Causes Shingles

The virus that causes chickenpox stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life.

Learn About the Cause of Shingles

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