Its been a rough last 3 weeks. I managed to break out with the shingles. Not a pleasant experience at all, and what I had was considered to be a "mild" case.
You don't "catch" shingles. Shingles are what is left over (but silently hiding) from chicken pox. The just hide there, for years and years. Then, when you immune system is low, or you are under stress, they wake up. And awake up they did. First, I was itching. I itched for almost a week, then the rash followed-in the same places as the itch. I managed to keep the itch somewhat under control by taking 4 or more baths a day in lukewarm water with tea tree oil in in. Then, lathering up in hydro-cortisone cream. I also took extra B12 and D vitamins, which help with the nerves, which is where the shingles virus attacks. Ibuprofen and benadryl also played a major role as well.
Normally you only get the shingles on one side of the body, along one nerve path. Unless you are me-one of the few, who get it on both sides.
After about 15 days of the rash, the intense hot stabbing pain (nerve pain started). It felt like hot sewing needles being poked into me. The tea tree oil didn't want to help much there, but adding apple cider vinegar to the bath did help someone--and more ibuprofen.
My rash is 95% healed up now, and the nerve pain is reduced to just an occasional stab of pain. The itching is mostly gone as well.
Shingles mainly hits those over 60, but anyone can get it at any age, providing they have already had the chickenpox, which I did as a baby. there is a vaccination available, that can be given to those over 50. It reduces your chances of getting the shingles by 50%. If you do still get them, it is a milder case. I am not 60 (but getting close), so I am in the targeted age group to have gotten it.
You can't spread shingles. However, if you have open blisters or sores, you can give someone who has never had the chicken pox the chicken pox. But, you can't give anyone the shingles. You can also get the shingles more than once. Some people tend to get it many times. About 1 in every 3 over 60 will develop the shingles at some point.
My blisters were small. Some people get huge ones. My nerve pain (although it was very painful) only lasted a few days. For some people, they never get nerve pain, or it only lasts a few days, few weeks, over a year, or may never go away. For this reason, it is important that if you have a bad case, to see a doctor so that you don't end up being one of the few with permanent nerve damage.
As if all that is not enough, it also comes complete with headache, nausea and an upset stomach. I managed to get that too--during race weekend. Your skin becomes super sensitive. I could literally feel the seams inside my clothing and the weight of buttons on my nightgown. I could not shower, because the pressure of the water coming out of the shower hurt when it hit my skin. It even hurt to wash my hair, although I had no rash on my head.
Once your rash heals to the point nothing is open, you are not considered to be contagious to pass the chicken pox. So, I worked race weekend at the speedway. Of course, since I did have the shingles, and was more active than I had been in days, and covered in clothes and gear, the heat built up, which created the itching to stir back up. Then the nausea hit, followed by the headache and upset stomach. That lasted 3 days. Some people get all this at once. For me, it seemed to hit in stages--just one thing after another.