ZocdocAnswersDo I really have shingles?

Question

Do I really have shingles?

I went to the doctor with a skin condition that he thought was shingles but everything I read about and saw pictures of online doesn't look like what I have. Could it be something else? What kind of skin conditions are similar to shingles?

Answer

Shingles, as you probably know from your reading online, is a condition caused when the varicella virus, which also causes chickenpox, reactivates in your body. The symptoms of this include burning or itching of the skin, together with a rash that usually begins as small blisters that eventually burst and dry out. Typically, the rash from shingles has a limited distribution and does not cross the center line of the body. Since the rash with shingles is evolving (beginning as small blisters that eventually crust and dry out), it is difficult to say that the rash you have is not due to shingles, as it could be any where along the spectrum of that rash, explaining why the pictures you have seen on the internet do not seem the same. There are, however, a few other conditions that can sometimes be confused with shingles. These include eczema, which can cause reddened, itching rashes on the skin, sometimes with crusting. Similarly, contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction of the skin to some irritating substance, can frequently cause redness and weeping blistering. I would suggest that you talk to your primary care doctor about this issue again, especially if the rash is not improving. They can take another look and reconsider additional causes of your condition.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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