Avatar universal

shingles without a rash

Is it possible to be diagnosed with shingles without having an external rash?  The pain is on my left side only in a band near my waist line.  The pain is horrific - even to the touch.  All symptoms seem to be consistent with shingles but after 2 weeks of this, there is no rash.  Narcotics, vicodin and darvocet have helped some but not completely.
157 Responses
Avatar universal
I guess I should expound a little more - the symptoms have been going on for more than a month and getting progressively worse.  My doctor has suggested shingles but is baffled that there is no rash and is hesitant to put me on antivirals.
Avatar universal

I just got diagnosed with zoster sin herpete. Basically, shingles without a rash. It does exist. Please check some of
sites on the Internet. I was amazed at how many sites there
were.  I have had to do my own research. Hope your health
imporves. Carrick
Avatar universal
I have an 18 y/o daughter that breaks out in rashless shingles during every finals time at school.  Any high stress period can put her into a case of shingles.  Sometimes she gets the rash and it's a long bout, but USUALLY when the rash doesn't show up the symptoms are shorter term.  I've had 3 different doctors diagnose the rashless shingles over the years, so I guess that's what it really is.  Good Luck!
Avatar universal
have been in severe pain 5 weeks, been to e.r. 2 times both times diagnosed shingles but no real rash,dr. sent me to muscle,bone,joint center they gave me every test there is, or so they say, on 2/2/06 the doctor threw his hands up and said theres nothing more could be done,since then i have been in deep depression,mainly in bed, cry alot, its like no one believes me,they say i have some neve damage on the left side where the pain is but not enough to be this severe,they now rule out shingles because they say it has to have a rash,
I have has the fever, chills. fatigue,I basically can not do aqnything and noone can help
hopeless in Philadelphia,PA
Avatar universal
Yes this is exactly what I have after having the zoster type one year ago , it started very very weak and 1 month later it was unbearable pain in my right hip area with no rash . I know it is related to shingles because it has moved from my back to my hip and the doctors cannot figgure it out but I convinced them to give me acyclovir and it did help. I still have pain and my skin is numb where the pain is.
Avatar universal
My mother went through a horrific case of shingles without a rash this July 07.  She is a healthy 61 year old woman who got the shingles vaccine Spring 07.  Its started out as a pain under her shouler blade.  She thought she pulled a muscle.  The pain got progressively worse (especially when she moved around) and she ended up in the ER thinking she was having a heart attack.  The doctors had no idea what was causing the pain (all tests, xrays etc. turned up negative).  Ironically, my 36 year old husband had just had a case of shingles with a rash in May and the intensity of the pain got me thinking that it seemed similar.  She had all the symptoms except for the rash (a band of pain that wrapped under her arm from her back, it was horrible when she moved and nothing helped).  Thankfully, her Dr. listened to what we thought it was (even though she did not have the classic rash) and put my mother on anit-virals.  She started getting better in 24 hours.  She ocassionally has strange sensations in that area, but is fully recovered.  It did take a good 4 weeks for her to get her energy back.  I contacted Merck to let them know that they may want to start looking into the vaccine causing less "severe" (althought the pain was severe) cases of shingles without the rash.  Some doctors will not think out of the box and if every classic symptom is not present they won't buy into the diagnosis.  I am convinced that more of these cases will start popping up because of the vaccine.  People think because they have had the vaccine that they will not get shingles, but that is far from the truth.  I hope people don't languish with this horrible illness because the anti-virals do help.  
Avatar universal
Thank you all so much for posting this information on the web about shingles. I have been having pain and sensitivity on one side of my body and I knew if I went the doctor without having an idea about what is wrong that it would cost me a small fortune. I think I have a pretty good immune system but it needs help to fight his off. I only pray that I am not left with some of the residual pain that is sometimes a side effect of this virus. This is so nice to be able to read what everyone says and benefit from it. Peace and wellness to all of you who have suffered.
Avatar universal
I think that I had shingles about 6 months ago. I kept having a severe pain on my right side and it wrapped around to my back.  I knew it wasn't my gallbladder because I don't have one.  I couldn't stand clothes touching my body.  Went to 2 different doctors and they did all sorts of blood tests and even a CT scan with dye.  Nothing showed up and they told me I didn't have shingles because I didn't have a rash.  Now the pain is not so intense but I have weird sensation on my right side, can't explain it, sometimes it just feels like something is not right.  Does this sound familiar to anyone else????
Avatar universal
I have something odd going on too. Haven't gone to the doc coz I did not have a rash.  Lots of stress this April, then suddenly my right side starts itching, burning and hurting.  Now six weeks later I have numbness.  But no rash.  I have the worst pain in the am, and can barely get out of bed.  Once I get moving I'm better.  But by eve I'm itchy and numb and in pain.  If you get any help let me know.  I hate going to the doc to hear it is in my head.  But I think I have shingles with no rash. Is there a test.
Avatar universal
Is it possible for a ten year old to have shingles without a rash??? He has been unwell for nearly a month now, but has had extremely sore neck front and back,chest and shoulders for about 2weeks. We have had two lots of blood tests all coming back normal. He is in excruiating pain mainly in the evening, he cant even stand water falling on his neck when having a shower and he definately wont let me touch it. He cries himself to sleep because he is in so much pain...painkillers arent even working. The doctors havent even brought shingles into the equation, but when I asked them, they say it is highly unlikely. I'm feeling like they think I'm making it all up...in my head or my sons head. Can I request a specific test to been done to either confirm or rule out shingles. I feel so helpless;(
Avatar universal
I have had the "flu" for over 2 1/2 weeks. I went to see a Dr., but of course there was nothing they culd do for me. The "flu" is getting progressively worse. Now I have pain on one side of my body- the right side, mostly in my hip area and in the rib area underneath my armpit. Every now and then I get chills and pain and feel cold. I am in tears as I write this because if I went to see the Dr. again, there would be nothing they could do, and I am in pain and weak and I have 3 young children to take care of. Thank you for all the information everyone wrote. It was really helpful.
Karena Lee
Avatar universal
I have been having terrible pain on my left side around my waist area.  I can't stand to have clothes on that area.  I get stabbing pain and a constant deep shooting pain all around the area.  I have been to the ER 4 times this past week and the doctor's are not listening to me.  Because I have no rash, they are ruling out shingles, but I think I have them.  I have had lots of stress lately and I believe it has come from that.  Has anyone been diagnosed with shingles that didn't have a rash and if so, what did you get to help the pain.  Nothing I have is working.

Janet C.
Avatar universal
I too have had the same pain without the rash on my upper rib area.  I am going through a lot of tests as Physician's do not seem to be educated enough on this type of out break.   My pain has be going on since Oct of 2007, I do believe I have PHN but cannot get the Doctors to understand how much pain I am in. There seems to be no test's they can do so its a process of elimination.  My primary care Physician does try and does care but is at lost so he referred me to a pain management physician from a very large hospital in Boston,  Mass General to be exact.  He is aware of Shingles without a rash but because I could touch my ribs, he does not believe its PHN.  He suggested to my primary care that I get a cat scan of my abdominal  area and perhaps go to a gastric specialist.  By the way absolutely disagreed with me that its impossible to get Shingles without a rash.  I plan on printing information about this and mailing to him.
Avatar universal
I had the Zostavax late Apr and then 'flu' for 2 wks starting about July 9 - I fully intend to contact Merck *AND* the CDC of FDA because no manufacturer is going to admit to any problems with their vaccine unless the Govt. steps in.....seeing someone else (Biz 1422) above mention having had the vaccine prior to a non-rash shingles virus diagnosis by a dr.  made me perk up and notice!

I had been under a lot of workload stress at work prior to this 'flu.'  
Avatar universal
hello everyone, my sympathy goes out to anyone having this pain. It is a pain I wish on no one. For two weeks I have had severe pain in my upper right chest area, it felt like someone took a sledgehammer to my ribs. I had an upper resp infection and was told the pain was coming from a torn muscle in my chest from the coughing. It was horrible and I wasSo  sent home with allergy medication, and two inhalers, and cough medicine with codine. Still the pain grew worse, a few laters later my husband found me passed out in our hallway and I was taken to the ER. They did a chest x-ray and lab work and found nothing wrong , and my incident was considered a mystery, and the dr had no explanation as to what may have happened. So I was sent home. The following evening I was in bed sobbing in pain. The pain felt like I had swimmer cramps in the side but multiply that by like 10. I told my husband something was seriously wrong. So again we go to the hospital on base thinking maybe they could figure it out, at first they said shingles, but then said no cause there was no rash present. They thought it was my gallbladder, but to be on the safe side they did a chest x-ray, came back normal, did an ultrasound, that to came back normal,the doc said she had no idea what could be causeing the pain, so she went ahead and had the nurse give me a small dose of morphine, and for the first time in a week  , I felt goooooood. pain free. She sends me home with mobic some anti-inflammatory medication, and zantac , and listed the condition as " heartburn". After I get home, once the morphine wore off, I was again in pain, with chills, dizziness, and nausea, but still no rash. Finally lastnight I couldnt take the pain anymore and went to the hospital. The doc took blood in order to check for lung blood clots , etc....all lab tests came back normal. But....when he touched my skin it just burned and hurt so bad. He said i had " shingles" without a rash. He sent me home with valtrex, and vicodin for pain. The vicodin works just great, however my lips have been tinglely, and my face feels like I have a sunburn, but still no rash. I have been under alot of stress as my husband is away for a six month deployment, and our daughter is in a residential treatment center getting psychiatric care, my cousin came to stay with us after my uncle passed away, it is just not fun . I hope this has helped someone. Everyone else I hope you start to feel better soon.
Avatar universal
I have just begun a round of famcyclovir for shingles without a rash. It began as a neuralgia type pain in a four inch band from my spine around to my belly button on the right side. I can push on the area and it does not hurt, but the lightest touch across it is excruciating. The shower hurts the area badly as well. I'm feeling slightly better after two days on the antiviral. I had shingles with a rash three years ago. I am a healthy 38 year old and my question is about how common it is for shingles to reoccur in healthy adults.
Avatar universal
I have had this extremly painful area on my right side at my lower rib around my back and also on the rear right hip area. So painful and wearing clothes was the worst. thought I had shingles, but no rash,  just very painful. didn't relize how much clothes rub on your skin. I have been having laser treatments from my chiropractor and they seem to be helping. Also taking 2000mg vit C 4x a day and Natrual B along with a good natural multiple vitamin. Resting after work as much as possible. The front area has been very ichy and then painful, the iching just started on the 3rd week. The back area is much better. Hoping it dosen't last much longer. Also I felt like I was coming down with something for about a week before the pain started. Good luck to everyone. Frustrating at times.
Avatar universal
wow you folks sure helped me look at whats going on with me
I have always had a funny little spot on my right side  under my rib cage. it itched but when i scrathed it  it never seemed to be the spot where the itch was coming from. Then i began getting severe pain in the back which would move to the front. Putting pressure on them relieved it temporarily.That pain slowely left but left areas ranging from my back to my front right side under the rib cage. that felt like sandpaper on an open wound.   Yet touching it directly does not hurt but my clothing hurts, a shower hurts. things like that. At times I experience a shooting pain, that I can only describe as electrical but radiating as if it were like a fireworks display..
anyone with any insight  NO RASH

I have no medical insurance and am broke right now
have gone twice to doc  first time when it was just pain in ribs he thought it was inflamation of the ribs and for a month i took an antiinflamitory drug    then he tested my urine to rule out kidney   now i am supposed to go for blood work, but have to wait tilll I can save a bit more money

636131 tn?1222787293
I just got back from the emergency dept suffering from pain and burning sensation on left side. The doc diagnosed "shingles" even tho there is no rash.  He prescribe anti viral and I'm off work until futher notice.  So yes shingles does happen without a rash.
Avatar universal
My daughter had shingles with a rash at age 10.  Now she is 17 and she came to me today complaining about her back hurting.  After questioning her, I beleive it's back with no rash right now.  I'm going to call the doctor in the morning to see what he thinks.
655283 tn?1224378055
We live in Montreal, Canada and my husband, at 27 years od has shingles with no rash. He has had Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy to treat Hodgkins Lymphoma this summer though as so no surprise to have shingles now. He has incredible pain on the top of his head and now starting to go down his neck. There are a few little 'pimple like' bumps on his head, but other than that, no rash yet. He is been taking VALTREX now for a week and now taking LYRICA for pain, but the Dr. said it would take weeks for the LYRICA to kick in...he has stabbing pain every 3-5 seconds with no pain meds and then with the pain meds, pain every 3 mintues instead...make it go away....
Avatar universal
Could someone suggest the medical specialty to have look at my neck and shoulder?  I have had burning, pain - both shooting/gripping & constant for almost two months.  My primary care doctor gave me a course of anit-viral meds and pain meds for 10 days - then one refill of the pain meds for 3 days.  I had a faint rash but was sure this was shingles.  I have shingles in the same area with an obvious rash twice before.  She did not run a test.  Said since I didn't come in within 72 hours of onset the anti-viral meds probably wouldn't help but to try them anyway.  I have tried numerous otc meds & creams but they don't help.  I just read a website that said anticonvulsants help with post shingles pain.  Has anyone tried that?  The pain is excruciating and keeps me awake.  Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Avatar universal
hi yes i have all these symptoms but no rash.. my doctor told me if i got the rash it was shingles...4 days on and i still have no rash but the pain is terrible and i'm so tired..
he did give me prescription for the anti-viruals but i'm not sure if to take them or not as he said take them when the rash appears...
thank you everyone
Avatar universal
You could also look at eczema.  I had had eczema for years without even realizing I had it.  I just thought I had dry skin.  Then, I started to get an intensely sore area in the eyelid area above my eye.  It did itch a little, but most of all, it hurt a lot.  It was so sore I had to be conscious that I did not touch it when washing my face.  On my back, I had an even worse case.  For temporary relief, I got a prescription for a steroid (very small tube and I used very little), but I also went to my chiropractor who does acupuncture.  It turns out it was some response of my immune system to something.  In one session of acupuncture, she managed to correct the problem.  I suppose I could still develop an occasional rash, but I have not had anything serious in about a year.
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