An outbreak of herpes zoster is often preceded by fatigue or flu-like symptoms. The first symptom is usually one-sided pain, tingling, or burning. The pain and burning may be severe and is usually present before any rash appears. Eventually, red patches appear on the skin, followed by small blisters.
The rash usually involves a narrow area from the spine to the front of the belly area or chest. However, the rash can appear on the face, eyes, mouth or ears. The blisters break and form ulcers, which dry and form crusts. The crusts fall off in two or three weeks.
When herpes zoster involves the eyes, it can cause a wide range of eye problems, each of which has its own set of symptoms. These diseases include:
- Conjunctivitis, or pink eye;
- Corneal ulcers;
- Retinitis, or infection of the retina, the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye;
- Optic neuritis;
- Glaucoma, or elevated eye pressure;
- Macular edema; and
- Neurotrophic keratopathy, where nerves to the cornea lose sensation.
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