Several weeks ago on Thursday...I had a very strange rash that started with a bright red cherry lesion on my leg/groin crease. It itched intensely and started to spread. Oval raised welts were all over my abdomen on one side.
By Saturday...I thought I was getting shingles and went to the ER as my doctor's office was closed and the on-call doc didn't know what it was. (As he hadn't seen it.) The itching was horrific. I had read that if it WAS shingles, then you should start anti-viral medication within 72 hours and my window of opportunity was closing fast. The ER doc took one look, said it was shingles and gave me the anti-viral, pain medication and anti-itch meds. This last med really put me to sleep and I just floated (and itched) til Wednesday till I saw my dermatologist. He said it was not shingles, and that "I had gotten into something". As it was freezing here and I hadn't been outside working in weeks, I doubted that. But he was right, it was not shingles as I had NO pain. Back on this web site, I ran various rashes through and discovered pityriasis. Bingo. I looked exactly like the milder versions and mine were mild because I had received anti-viral meds at the ER at the right time. It is a benign viral rash that lasts at least six weeks, is supremely itchy, and it non-contagious. There is some evidence that if you get to the doc early, (just like shingles) you can avert some of the rash and itchiness with Acyclovir. I never did use the pain meds. About three weeks later it was all gone.
There is now a vaccination for shingles targeted to those over 60 (why not 57 etc) and is called Zostavax. I am definitely going to get it. ( you must have had chicken-pox previously). Their web-site will scare you to death! But I never want to itch like that, and certainly don't want the pain!