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Shingles (herpes zoster) refers to a painful rash caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella zoster). You are at greater risk for shingles if you are over the age of 60, if you had chickenpox before you were a year old or if you have a weakened immune system. Painful swelling of the lymph nodes is one of the symptoms of shingles.
According to eMedTV, swollen or tender lymph nodes are among the early symptoms of shingles, and occur in most people two or three days before the appearance of the characteristic rash. Itchy, tingling skin and burning or shooting pain on one side of the face or body are other early symptoms. Others may include chills, fever, headache and upset stomach.
The rash starts as small, fluid-filled blisters that resemble the chickenpox appearing in a band, called a dermatone. The band usually goes around from the spine to the chest or belly, according to MedlinePlus. The rash can appear anywhere, often around the face, mouth, nose, eyes and ears, but the blisters are usually limited to the dermatone, says eMedTV. The blisters usually break open, ooze and crust over.
Causes of Swelling
Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, an important part of the body's immune system. The lymph nodes that most commonly swell are found in the neck, under the chin, in the armpits and in the groin, according to eMedicineHealth. The cells in the lymph nodes include white blood cells that fight infections. When the body is attacked by a virus, the white blood cells in the lymph nodes multiply, causing them to swell.
Swollen lymph nodes occur with many conditions, not all of which need medical attention, according to eMedicineHealth. If the cause is an ordinary cold or other minor infection that does not need antibiotic treatment, they can be given up to two weeks to resolve before medical advice is sought. In most cases swollen lymph nodes are only a concern when they appear with other symptoms of a condition that needs physician treatment.
Pain in the lymph nodes from swelling can be an early, pre-rash symptom of shingles, although you will not know without other symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of shingles you should consult your physician.