You probably know and have heard about shingles, and whether you had them or not, one thing is certain that they are not fun at all and are very uncomfortable. Although the infection which is caused by zoster virus isn’t life-threatening, it can be unbelievably painful and uncomfortable. There are approximately 1 million cases of shingles in the US each year, and the chance of getting shingles in your lifetime is 1 in 3. Because the risk of infection increases as you get older, the CDC advises people age 60 and over to get the shingles vaccine, but it can also strike young adults. If you’re interested read on to learn what it’s like to have the virus.
“It started as an itchy, tingly sensation across my lower right side, and then became somewhat hot and prickly. Having clothing against it was uncomfortable. It eventually went away, and every once in a while I get a bit of a twitch in the area.” –Bevlyn, 63
“Shingles was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. It feels like a mix of electrical shock and small needles against your skin. But what’s worse is the isolation it causes when no one can be around you and you can’t hug your kids.” –Matt, 42
“There’s an intense itching sensation at first, like I’d been attacked by the queen of all mosquitoes! About 24 hours later, blisters started to form. They were sore to the touch and burned a little. I also felt anxious and a little depressed, because I didn’t know why the shingles came on in the first place.” –Lindsay, 32
“I had such intense pain in my lower back that I thought I had kidney stones—it was so severe that my husband almost took me to the emergency room. When I went to the doctor, the blisters had started to appear and she told me that I had shingles. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. They are extremely painful. It hurt to wear clothes for about a month.” –Sandra, 61
“I started noticing a mild rash that was accompanied by a bit of pain near my lower back and hip. The pain was different and less severe than the muscle aches you get after exercise. I went to the doctor quickly, because the pictures that I saw on Google of the most severe cases were pretty frightening and I didn’t want it to spread to the rest of my body. My doctor prescribed me the antiviral pill valacyclovir for 2 weeks, which kept it in check. The rash lingered the whole time I was on the meds, but faded 2 days after my last dose.” –Bill, 49
“Shingles started as a sensation in my left shoulder that felt exactly like a pulled muscle, except that I hadn’t done any sort of heavy lifting or exercise. Next, the skin around the sore spot started to tingle and feel numb to the touch. A few days later, a small, circular rash appeared on my left breast, and then a little circular rash of red bumps appeared on my left shoulder blade, right at my bra line. I’d describe shingles as the worst sunburn you’ve ever had, coupled with exhaustion and muscle pain that no amount of painkillers will dull. I could fall asleep only on my side because it hurt too much to touch even my softest sheets with my back or chest.” –Crystal, 32
“It felt creepy crawly under the skin, like having the chills. I eventually took medicine, but because I thought my symptoms were just hives at first, I took it too late and it wasn’t as effective as it could have been.” –Stephanie, 47