Thank you for writing in today.
Based on the information presented, your symptoms are concerning for shingles and the prodromal symptoms of that virus. I would recommend an evaluation by your primary care provider today. You may want to call the office, discuss your situation, and see if you can be seen sooner. If an appointment is not an option, you may want to consider going to an Urgent Care Center.
An accurate diagnosis and treatment of shingles is very important. Sometimes shingles can cause a postherpatic pain that becomes chronic pain. The best way to limit post-shingles complications is early diagnosis and treatment.
Generally, shingles can be diagnosed based on history and presentation. Some providers may want to culture the area; however, most can identify and treat the condition in office without any difficulty.
I realize no one want the "go to your provider" answer, but it is sometimes necessary.
I hope this helps.
Shingles is caused by a virus. The virus is not necessarily cured, but it is put back into it's place---where it is not active. Generally, the virus hides out in the nerve fibers near the tailbone. It is usually kept in check by the body's immune system. However, shingles can develop when a person is fatigued, exhausted, stressed, ill, or has lowered immunity. Antiviral medications are used to help get the virus back to a state where it is not causing shingles. Also, the pain associated with shingles may need treatment too. Pain medication and tricyclic antidepressants help with shingles pain.
Yes, shingles is contageous, so you should use caution when interacting with people. You should practice good handwashing and also keep the areas clean. As for the children, they may have some protection if they have had the varicella vaccine; however, there should still be caution and good hygiene sense used at home.
You will need to confirm a diagnosis with your provider. In addition, your provider will likely have a handout of precaution instructions for you.