~ the pain called Shingles pt. 3 ~

25 March 2013

originally, i was planning to write about the Shingles recovery on its anniversary. but, a few weeks ago, i got an email from Jasmine, asking about my Shingles that happened back in July/August 2012 and the recovery. her mother-in-law contracted Shingles and was browsing the internet on how to cope with it. i wrote a long reply email, but it turns out that her email address was mistyped and the email bounced. so i decided to post the story here instead. i hope it’s useful…


it took me 3 weeks of total rest. no contact with almost anyone, no going outside, and all i did was eat and sleep, just like i wrote on the entries (one and two). the first week was the swelling, the next two weeks was the peeling. after that, i was allowed to be outside, because i don’t spread chicken pox anymore…

i actually took picture of my face everyday to document the progress. but it would be too much and boring to see 34 pictures of me swelling and scarred :) but after the first week, the swelling goes down and the face slooooooowly getting better looking (not the pain though. the second and third week is probably the most painful period).

day 7
Day 7

day 10
Day 10

day 20
Day 20

day 31
Day 31

i didn’t go to any specialists, including skin specialist. but my doctor gave me a hydroquinone cream (4%) that i have to put on after the scabs peeled away twice a day. i was not allowed to be under direct sunlight for months (i think 5 months). after 5 months, i was back under the sun (did a few running races), but i wear sunscreen on my face all the time and under a 100% UV umbrella (bought it in Japan) as much as possible. and i use cosmetic whitening masks once in a while after i pass the 6-month mark.

the scars are still there now, but much more faint. and i don’t look monster-ish anymore. i just looked like that i had a few big zits a few days ago.

Month 8. Taken a few days ago.

that’s the outer parts.

the nerve part takes much longer to heal. it’s called PHN: postherpetic neuralgia. the strange sensation on skin lasted consistently for about 3 months. at the beginning it was pain (burning, cutting, etc). slowly, the pain dissapear, but the sensation of the skin being pulled stayed. sometimes it feels like a icy water running down the face, sometimes it felt warm. sometimes, it’s itchy, but since the top layer of the skin couldn’t really feel anything, it’s useless to scratch.

after about 3 months, i realized that all the infected skin areas are still numb. i can’t feel any touch on those scabs. i went back to the doctor, and he said it may either heal in 6 months, or i probably lose it forever because the nerve endings are too damaged to heal.

well, i still can’t feel anything on most of my right face, and it’s been 8 months. so, i probably have lost it forever. but it’s no big deal. after going through that much pain, not feeling anything feels like a blessing, haha. the pulling sensation still show up once in a while, mostly on the chin area, which had the most damage on the outer part. it doesn’t bother me that much, though.

another thing is: after 3 months, i realized that my right ear lost some of its hearing. i didn’t realize it until i was switching phones from right to left, and the phone was much louder than i thought. but i guess, if i didn’t realize it for 3 months, it was also not a big deal :)

i didn’t go to ear specialist, because i thought it’s too late anyways. the doctor have said that if the shingles reached eyes or ears, the damage most likely irreparable.


i hope this helps a little bit for those who got Shingles. to tell you the truth, it ended up this bad because i didn’t realize i contracted Shingles until it was too late. if i got to the doctor and was given the Anti-Viral within 72 hours of the first sign (swelling old zit and burning sensation on the right side of the face), it shouldn’t spread this wide and the pain would be much tolerable. i probably would still be able to keep my hearing intact.

so, anyone who has had Chicken Pox may get Shingles. that, you can’t really do anything about it. but you can avoid the permanent damage and experience lesser pain if the Shingles was detected earlier. so get to the doctor if you start having burning pain on only one side of your body…

~ comment (6) ~

I just got it about 3 weeks ago, and I would understand the pain, so technically I still have another 2+ months to heal right? Lucky me, I got to to the doctor quickly, before the shingles spread. So the casualties just around the back of my head and also some part in the neck (but it really hurts to wear any shirt, as the skin is so sensible in the back of my neck). also I felt numbness in my right tounge, also different feel for my right eye. My physician, skin specialist, said it’s not infectious again after 1 week, so gave up the self quarantine. Now, still recovering and some burning sensation on the right ear area especially at night, that made my sleep not so easy. its the PHN that i read needs moths to recover. So get better soon, it’s so relieving to hear the same experience from the shingles sufferer… After the wound healed I went to ENT specialist, and he cleaned out my right ear. I think you should go to ENT specialist also. You know what I listened to several suggestion to use the tapioca starch to dried up the liquid of the lesions hahaha.. that is why the ENT found out my left ear was dirty…

djaka | 25 March 2013 - 05:05 | reply

whoa, you got it too! on the neck! ouch, i’m soooo sorry to hear that! i remember thinking i was thankful getting it on the face, because then i don’t have to deal with the pain when wearing clothes.

yeah, i know what you mean about the lack of sleep. it was hard getting a good sleep. or any sleep, actually. my PHN took forever (or it feels like forever). i still feel the pain once in a while on the 4th and 5th month. and my right ear was ringing and super itchy in the inside (driving me nuts!). i guess i should’ve gone to the ENT back then…

but all the pain are all gone now. what’s left is just numbness and the pulling sensation. i can’t feel anything on most of my right face. and i don’t think it’s healing… i figured it’ll stay that way forever. doesn’t bother me much, though.

thalia | 25 March 2013 - 08:56 | reply

Wow Thal, that looks painful. Are you alright now? Didn’t know you lost hearing. I hope you get well soon.

Chandra Marsono | 25 March 2013 - 05:44 | reply

hi chan :) it was super painful back in july/august. now it’s mostly just lost of sense. regarding the hearing, it’s only a partial loss on one ear, so i’m still functioning normally… i think i’m fully recovered now. remember when we met up in Kemang? i’m all good ^__^

thalia | 25 March 2013 - 08:45 | reply

Ini datang begitu aja krn virus kah, mbak? Atau ada penyebab lain?

ummu umar | 27 March 2013 - 09:45 | reply

penyebabnya virus yang laying dormant. cuma bisa kena kalo udah pernah ke cacar air… cerita selengkapnya kenapa bisa terjadi ada disini: http://www.avocadolite.com/expiration/archives/002568.php

thalia | 27 March 2013 - 02:15 | reply