Can You Have Shingles Without an Outbreak?

shingles without breaking out

Shingles will usually cause a painful red rash on the face or some other part of the body. But did you know you can also have shingles without breaking out? The name for this condition is zoster sine herpete (ZSH), which is Latin for “shingles without a rash.”

Why Does ZSH Occur?

Experts don’t know why people sometimes have shingles without breaking out. What they do know is that the cause is the same as with the regular shingles. Namely, it is the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

People with weak immune systems are more at risk of shingles. Their immune system could be weak due to malnutrition or deficiency in some important nutrients. But low immunity can also be the result of some underlying medical condition.

What Are the Symptoms of ZSH?

If you have shingles without breaking out, you may experience some common symptoms of shingles. They can include itchiness and a burning sensation on the skin. You might also experience fatigue, fever, and painful headaches.

Yet because there are no visible symptoms, it is hard for doctors to diagnose ZSH. Thus, telling them about these other related problems can help.

Is It Treatable?

Like all cases of shingles, ZSH is also very treatable. Doctors will prescribe antiviral medication to reduce the effects of the varicella-zoster virus. You may also have to take analgesics to relieve the pain.

However, the virus will remain in your body even after you’ve recovered. It may thus reactivate in the future and cause another outbreak. People over the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine. While it won’t kill the virus, it can help adjust your body’s response to it, thus lowering the risk of future outbreaks.