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11 Silent Signs of Shingles That Are Easy to Miss

Shingles is a viral infection that affects the nerves. It occurs due to a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that leads to chickenpox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 3 people in the United States develops shingles during their lifetime. 

You can develop shingles if you’ve had chickenpox or exposure to the virus that provokes it. Shingles typically affect people after the age of 50 years, however, it can occur at any age if a person has previously had chickenpox. 

The main symptom of shingles is a painful rash. But it’s present not in everyone who develops the condition. Although it's not life-threatening, it can still do a number to your health if left ignored. So, here are silent signs of shingles everybody (especially those who have had chickenpox) needs to know:

1. Pain around an eye 

People who have migraines can get pain around one eye. But if you experience this type of pain along with tingling in the eye and any type of rash, this is likely caused by shingles. If left ignored, it can lead to blindness. 

2. Line of red bumps

A line of red bumps somewhere on the body could indicate shingles. The rash can start with red bumps anywhere and typically takes a shape known as dermatomal, meaning they are linear and in a pattern related to the branches of the spinal nerve that innervates that area of the skin. 

3. Sensitivity to light 

If you’ve got a sudden sensitivity to light, whether fluorescent lighting or sunshine, it might be a silent sign of shingles. You may also experience a feeling that mimics the onset of a mild migraine. 

4. Chest pain 

Chest pain is a scary symptom but doesn’t always indicate a heart attack. If it comes with itchiness and your chest is painful to the touch, this might be an early sign of shingles.  

5. Stress 

It’s no surprise that stress can weaken the immune system, so it can also lead to shingles. Even mild stress can be a culprit of reactivation of herpes zoster, so, consider trying some stress-relieving options like yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, or reading. 

6. Sharp, stabbing pain  

Shingles-related pain manifests itself as sharp stabbing, burning, extremely itchy, or pins-and-needles aches. It typically occurs in the trunk area of the body, including the upper and lower back and the chest. The pain can start several days before the rash appears. 

7. Skin irritation on one side of the body 

Skin irritation on one side of the body is a hallmark symptom of shingles, so if you’ve got it, it’s time to see your primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis. 

8. Flu-like feeling 

If you have flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, and muscle aches but you do know that’s not due to the flu, shingles could be to blame. 

9. Headaches 

An annoying persistent headache can be the result of allergies, intolerance to certain foods, stress, or shingles. A shingles-induced headache is usually felt on one side of the head. The headache might be felt around the eye, the top of the head, or the forehead. 

10. Painful blisters 

Painful blisters can occur due to a wide range of things like bug bites, or allergies. But they may also happen due to the reactivation of the herpes zoster virus. Shingles blisters are usually extremely painful and itchy. 

11. Minor pains for unknown reasons 

People tend to ignore minor pain, especially those who are middle-aged. However, it’s important to pay attention to the location. It’s common that pains without a rash are ignored. So, if you notice minor aches in the upper back, shoulder, or/and chest, it’s time to get checked for shingles. 

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