Can Recurring shingles, without a rash, spread, and possibly affect the eye?

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Thankful to have found this discussion! Tried searching to see if this question has been asked.

I had lumbar spinal fusion surgery April 4, this year. The day I was to leave the hospital I woke up with blisters in my ear and down the side of my face on the left side. It was climbing rapidly and they gave me the anti viral and confirmed shingles. They even examined my eye because it was up to my cheekbone. 

The pain in my ear was horrific for a couple of days but I must have received had a to viral quickly because I consider it a mild case. 

The last week I have had horrible jaw pain on that same side in the same place. I was at the dentist for other things and she said I was probably grinding my teeth and ordered a mouth guard. 

Today, along with suffering with the pain all day and night, I have numbness and tingling and some itching on that side of the face so I am assuming the shingles has returned or I am just suffering with PHN. I have no blisters at this point.

Question is: if it is PHN and there is no rash, can it still spread? For instance, should I be concerned about my eye again?  I am assuming there is not going to be a rash since it has been over a week with the pain. Not sure what to do at this point. I am already on Gabapentin for nerve pain from my surgery but it sure has not helped this terrible jaw and ear pain. 

Appreciate any insight! Thanks!

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  • Posted

    I feel for you. I can only tell you of my experience I had shingles behind my left ear and it has affected the greater and lesser occipital nerves. Therefore I get pain in my head and around my eye it has also caused chronic migraine as well. The good thing is in most it can go away after a few weeks to a few months but my own experience is don’t count on it I’m afraid to say sorry can’t be more positive and helpful 
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    • Posted

      Wow. So sorry to hear all of that. I used to have full blown horrific migraines but I haven’t had one for about seven years. When those stopped I started getting complicated migraines. That was nuts and strange, I would pass out and slur my speech, etc but there wasn’t much pain. Now I have ocular migraines!! It seems I am getting to experience them all. Sure hope you can find relief soon. Thanks for your reply. 
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  • Posted


    I cannot tell you your pain in you ear or side of face is PHN.

    I will tell you that I have five symptoms of pain with my PHN and all the symptoms center where my shingles scar is.

    I have sporadic nerve activity around my torso. Sometimes it is very severe and stabbing.

    I have mild to severe pain in my side.

    I have hypersensitive skin where my scar was.

    I get runners side aches only on the side with my scar and nerve activities. I dont run and it can start while sitting for hours for no apparent reason. I don't run and I never get them on my right side.

    If my scar area is exposed to change of  temperature, humidity, pressure like wind. Direct sunlight opening of a window or door or an air conditioner kicks on and blows on me when the temp is a few degrees different, I end up with a frost bite burn on my scar that is really annoying and painful.

    Finally I get heat coming out of my nerve area through my left side of my abdomen. Which means when that happens I cannot wear a shirt until it stops for no apparent read as why it started it the first place.

    There you have it. Remember most doctors do not understand any of this. I have spoken to the best doctors in the shingles business. I wish you the best and would continue the discussion if you desire.

    I recently tired Cryotherapy and it did not work. I am getting ready to try another therapy and after that I can sayI have tried all traditional and nontraditional treatments.

    Take care Mark

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    • Posted

      Wow. Mine is definitely minor compared to so many on this thread. I mean the pain is probably the same but I just had it on my chin up to and including my ear and inside my mouth. That wasn’t pleasant but didn’t last long. I had it in my hair right around my ear and that is the most sensitive when I go to comb my hair or barely brush it with my hand it still hurts.

      So it’s been almost three months it has been “gone” and back already. I’ve read stress can play a big part and I do have a family member in a horrible situation that I deal with on a daily basis. Between that and the surgery I am probably stressed 😩 

      Thanks for your insight, I appreciate any help or thoughts or shared experiences.

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  • Posted

    Hi there; only last week I went to see doctor concerned that I had a patch of hypersensitive skin ( not where I have had shingles) the patch has been very sensitive to the point that clothes brushing against it makes it sore. I have had recurring shingles for the last 8 years or so and it usually  affects my left outer thigh or left bum cheek. I have once had it on my right breast and once on my back where your bra sits. I have had at least 20 outbreaks in the 8 years. The doctor has agreed that the skin sensitivity is down to PHN in all probability even though it’s not at the actual site of my usual rash. Like you I have had no breakout where the skin sensations are ! 

    Kate x

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. April was my first experience with shingles and my ear hurt so bad I laid and cried. And I had just had major back surgery two days prior. It wasn’t laser and the shingles pain was so much worse than my initial recovery. 

      I can’t imagine having it over and over again. I pray that goes away for you soon!! 

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  • Posted

    Hi Candacejo,

    Good news:  PHN does not “spread.”  PHN pain is due to past damage from the virus, it is not caused by a current virus. Also, an active shingles outbreak, even with blisters, does not spread either. It could infect someone else with chickenpox if they have not had it, but it won’t spread to other areas of your skin. 

    I hope you are are more comfortable soon. 

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much! I had searched everything on Dr. Google with no luck smile  i was sure the pain was coming from a new bridge I had put in just before my surgery. It is terribly sore right around the bridge but the rest of the pain is in my jaw and ear. I see he dentist tomorrow to get my new crowns so I am going to ask her to take an X-ray if the bridge to be sure. Crazy!! Thank you, sorry to ramble. 

      Even the morning I was to go home from the hospital, with the blisters in my ear and mouth, the nurses thought I had an abscess and sent me to my dentist as soon as I was discharged. She knew right away it was shingles and sent me to the ER so I could get the early medicine. I do think it helped me. But wow, I had always heard shingles was awful, I am even more sympathetic towards those who are suffering. 

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