Swelling with shingles

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hi , I’m 59 and for a few days I had a pain in my thigh and leg , thought it was sciatica, on and off. Then last Wednesday discovered a rash on inner thigh spreading, felt quite ill. Saw GP the same day and she said shingles and put me on anti vitals. For a couple of days it seemed to not have spread, just a few new bits on my knee ,then today 4 days in became swollen and very painful . Using calamine lotion which cools it but really hard to walk , pain has changed from stabbing pains to just pain particularly on inner thigh near my groin. Is this typical ? Can’t walk around and just want to sleep at the moment. 

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  • Posted

    Dear Ruth,

    The pain from Herpes Zoster-Shingles can be debilitating, agonizing, & excruciating. Shingles does cause swelling and swollen lymph nodes in the affected areas. Fatigue, exhaustion, and malaise are continuing sequelae of shingles. How are you managing the pain? Were you given any analgesics by your Physician?

    Ice and cool compresses help decrease the pain.

    You absolutely need to rest and sleep as the virus is circulating throughout your body. You cannot power through this.

    Best Wishes

    Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Thanks Merry 

      I’m just resting at the moment and taking paracetamol. I have other conditions which mean I can’t take NSAIDs  or Codine based drugs. I on tv anti virals until next Weds so hoping it won’t get much worse .


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    • Posted

      Hi Merry 

      I’m a week into shingles and after the anti virals no new rashes or spots but after getting up and about more pain in thigh groin and now my hip up to my waist. Thigh is swollen too and hard to sit down . Should I ask for more anti virals? It’s getting me down now. Can’t take pain killers as they just make me sleep and can’t take strong ones anyway due to other medical conditions . 

      Grateful for any advice 


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    • Posted

      Hi Ruth,

      I’m 35 and going through my first bout with Shingles and found this thread by googling everything I’m going through. Your experience mirrors mine to the T! I started to feel swelling in groin muscle area and started to feel swelling. I’m active so I thought I might have had a grade 1 groin sprain but after blisters showed on the same side but on my back toward my waste I went to urgent care. As soon as the doctor saw it he said it was shingles. I’ve been on valtrax since Monday and the blisters have not spread and are scabbed over.  However the swelling has spread from my groin area all the way to my hip and is painful and red. I’m a bit alarmed but started to take Motrin to help with inflammation. Any words of wisdom from experience would be greatly appreciated.


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    • Posted

      Hi Keian,

      I am so sorry you are going through this right now. I understand the agonizing, lancinating pain, sleepless nights, and suffering.

      I am a Nurse Practitioner in the States. I have had Herpes Zoster-Shingles in my right ear every three to five weeks for the past twenty-two years and twice in my right eye.

      This is a summary of the stages, signs and symptoms of Herpes Zoster-Shingles, and medical management of the disease.

      During the Pre-eruptive Phase, you may have some of the following symptoms:

      Duration 1-10 days, but the rash occasionally takes much longer to appear



      Generalized Aches and Pains

      Fever, Chills, and Sweating

      Enlarged Lymph Nodes near the pain and rash

      Fatigue and Exhaustion

      Pain usually preceding the rash, but not always


      Description of pain: deep burning or aching pain, or electric shock–like pains.

      Acute Eruptive Phase

      Rash of grouped vesicle-blisters in a dermatomal pattern.

      Occurs in waves or crops over a period of 5-7 days.

      Vesicle-blisters look dissimilar and are of different sizes.

      The rash is on a red base.

      The pain may continue to increase into the second and third week.

      The clear vesicle-blisters cloud over, look like pustules, scab over, and turn black. This process may take between 2-4 weeks. Once every vesicle-blister has scabbed over, you are no longer infectious!

      You are considered infectious (contagious) if your rash is open to the air, ie not covered, to anyone who has not had chickenpox. This includes all pregnant women! Remember, not all women know they are pregnant!

      Chronic Phase (Post Herpetic Neuralgia PHN)

      30 days after onset of rash. Definition varies

      Duration may last months or years after initial episode of Herpes Zoster-Shingles.

      The resolution of the scars can take up to a year to heal.

      Management and Medications


      Famciclovir 500 mg 3x daily 7-10 days, sometimes 14 days.

      Smallest Tablet

      Convenient dosing

      Least Resistance

      Valcyclovir 1000 mg 3x daily 7-10 days

      Large Tablets difficult to swallow for some

      Based on Acyclovir

      Acyclovir 800 mg 5x daily 7-10 days

      Inconvenient Dose Schedule

      Growing Resistance to Varicella Virus

      Acyclovir is the antiviral most often prescribed in the UK

      What dosage of the medication are you on? Sometimes, the Physician places the patient on a lower dose, but needs to increase it to help with the pain-itching.

      Sometimes, you need to be placed on a cocktail of medications, as they will work synergistically to help you. These are all by prescription. I have grouped them according to class. A clinician would start with one from the Anticonvulsant class, taper the dosage up, then one from the Antidepressant Class, etc. This list is by no means complete.





















      2. I would find 100% cotton knit clothing. Make sure there are no seams to irritate your skin. The cotton knit is the most breathable, least irritating cloth to most individuals.

      3. Use Lidocaine Cream or Spray OTC topically to help with the pain- itching, eg, Solarcaine with Aloe or Bactine. Many on this forum feel either Lidocaine or Benzocaine help with the pain-itching. The cream might soothe the inflamed nerve endings better and last longer on the skin. You can only use Lidocaine 12 hours on and 12 hours off, as the usefulness will extinguish itself.

      4. Use ice or cool compresses. Do not take hot showers, as it will only increase the pain-itching

      5. You need to rest and sleep. You cannot power through this disease. Do not go back to work! This virus is way stronger than you are, and you will only get more pain, the more exertion you do.

      6. Most Importantly, get the Shingrex Immunization. It is a two phase vaccine, two months apart. It is given intramuscularly. It is highly efficacious in stopping Post Herpetic Neuralgia PHN and recurrent episodes of Herpes Zoster-Shingles.

      Shingrex is available in the US at the pharmacy and covered by insurance if you are over 50 years of age. If you are younger than 50, and have had a documented case of shingles, it is still covered. You will need a prescription from your Physician.

      If you are in the UK/Canada/Australia/NZ, I know it has been distributed there, but the national health insurance may not cover it until age 70, which is ridiculous. It is expensive, but I would have paid thousands not to have recurrent shingles.

      Best Wishes,

      Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Thank you for such a detailed response.  I’m currently on 500 MG of Valtrex 3 times a day for 7 days. Currently on day 3. Also 800 MG of Ibuprofen as needed. The ibuprofen has helped with the swelling of the lymph nodes. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Keian,

      The dose is 1000 mg 3x daily for Valcyclovir or Valtrex. You need to call the doctor and tell him to prescribe the full dose.

      I hope you feel better soon.

      Best Wishes

      Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Just to say that after a month with literally zero sleep... I discovered the best treatment was 4 ibuprofens, 2 taken 3 hours before bed and 2 half an hour before bed which dulled the pain and made me sleepy and then add the most important thing - a cold damp tea towel! Not only cools the area but insulates against rubbing clothes and sheets, which are a real nightmare!

      Try not to stress, when it ends it ends really quickly, although you might get little flare ups for a few days after.

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    • Posted


      Excellent, I am glad that works for you! I found the ice/cool compresses wonderful. Unfortunately, I have anaphylaxis to NSAIDS, so I cannot use Motrin, but for others without kidney problems, that is an excellent idea.

      Best regards,

      Merry Juliana

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  • Posted

    Hello Ruth, yes unfortunately shingles can spread and be very painful. What makes it confusing is that it can vary in pain and appearance. There are some people who have the rash but no pain, while others have pain but no rash, etc etc. I have reoccurring shingles. Which also can happen. I take the antiviral medication plus tramadol for pain and use frankincense oil on the rash. Again different medication works for some and not for others. What does seem to benefit everyone is lots of rest, no stress and a very healthy diet. I'm going to get the new shingles shot once I see if it is available in my town . Hope this helps. Best of luck. Gayleen

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    • Posted

      Thanks Gayleen

      I’m hoping to get the shingles vaccine when this is all done with,Here they usually  only give it for over 70s but I’ll try. It’s a really debilitating condition isn’t it? I’ve just been sleeping for 2 days not got any energy to get up and about and the rash is so sore today 

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    • Posted

      Here they recommend the vaccine for 50+ but you can get the vaccine at any age if you have reoccurring. I have the reoccurring and I am going through another breakout as we speak. The doctor gave me a prescription for 6 refills as to keep taking the anti viral, so I can get the vacinne next year. You have to be free of an out break for one year to get the vaccine. Hope you find some relief. Gayleen
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  • Posted

    I have to great words of knowledge or education. But what I say is...if you need to sleep, then go sleep and take care of you. Shingles is the worst, most painful thing I have even had. I have had multiple kidney stones, 4 kids, total knee replacement, Pulmonary Embolism and other things and this has been the worst. So again, take care of you and do what you can for any pain relief. 
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