Why It's Important for Young Adults to Look Out for These Shingles Symptoms

They're not pretty, but you need to see these rashes.

Have you ever had chickenpox? If the answer is yes, then the virus that causes shingles (the varicella-zoster virus) is present in your body. Right now, it's most likely lying inactive. But at some point in the future, it could resurface, traveling from your nerves to your skin and causing an eruption of painful blisters forming a shingles rash.

Don't worry, it's not uncommon—nearly one in three people in the U.S. will get shingles during their lifetime. Scientists aren't sure why some of us go on to develop shingles and others don't, but people with weakened immune systems, like those with HIV or lupus, are more likely to get a shingles rash. Stress or trauma can also play a role.

Shingles has long been thought of as an infection that mostly affects older adults, specifically those between the ages of 60 and 80. But a 2016 study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases shows that's changing. The prevalence of shingles among Americans younger than 50 more than quadrupled from the late 1940s to the early 2000s, according to the study.

Recently, a news anchor from Florida shared his experience with shingles to raise awareness among younger people that they might also be at risk. According to News4Jax, Scott Johnson, who's in his early 40s, developed an excruciatingly painful case just last month.


Johnson said he first noticed a hard, painful welt on the back of his neck. But soon it turned into an unbearable rash and the symptoms then spread to his face. Along with a painful rash, common symptoms of shingles include burning, numbness, and itching. There's no cure for it, but prompt treatment with antiviral drugs can speed healing.

It turns out Johnson isn't the only one sharing photos of shingles. Others who experienced the infection have posted their photos online, hoping to warn people about what it looks like and how it can manifest. Below, we've gathered 7 photos from Instagram users who want you to know what to look out for.

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