“I don’t see anything”
Just because you don’t see the rash yet, the pain of shingles may begin to affect you. Several days to a week before any visible skin rashes form, you may feel a burning pain, or at a minimum, skin sensitive to the touch. Most people don’t associate the burning pain with shingles because nothing is visible in the beginning.
Shingles rash starts as small blisters on a red base, with new blisters continuing to form for three to five days. The blisters follow the path of individual nerves that come out of the spinal cord in a specific “ray-like” distribution (called a dermatomal pattern) and appear in a band-like pattern on an area of skin.
Eventually, the blisters pop, and the area starts to ooze. (YUCK) The affected areas will then crust over and heal. The duration of the outbreak may take three to four weeks from start to finish. On occasion, the pain will be present but the blisters may not appear. This can be a very confusing cause of local pain.
How long is shingles contagious?
Shingles is contagious and can be spread from an affected person to babies, children, or adults who have not had chickenpox. But instead of developing shingles, these people develop chickenpox. Once they have had chickenpox, people cannot catch shingles (or contract the virus) from someone else. Once infected, however, people have the potential to develop shingles later in life.