Myth Number One: There is always a rash.
The biggest myth surrounding the shingles rash is that there will even be a rash initially. In many cases, the pain precedes the rash by 2-4 days which can result in an expensive misdiagnosis. While it's comforting to believe that doctors are somehow alert to the symptoms, reality seems to indicate they are not. This means when you present with a burning pain and numbness, the doctor(s) are likely to suspect everything BUT shingles. The end result can be a missed opportunity to get an early start on an anti-viral regimen or - worse - a recommendation to undergo completely unnecessary surgery.
I was in the latter case, with the doctors recommending emergency gallbladder surgery. Fortunately, the surgeon was more sensible and - while he wasn't able to diagnose what WAS wrong - was quickly able to determine via a cursory pre-exam that my gallbladder was not the source of my pain.
Myth Number Two: The pain is from the rash.
While many victims of shingles do feel skin pain the most, the actual location and type of pain depends upon where the shingles virus has seated itself. It's quite common for the shingles virus to seat itself in the sciatic nerve, in which case the nerve pain is very severe whereas the skin rash is mostly just (eventually) itchy. While the type and location of the pain may vary, I think every victim agrees that the pain - regardless of form - can be debilitating.
Myth Number Three: The rash will be large.
Typically shingles presents on only one side of the body. In some cases, the rash may be large and noticeable. However, in other cases the rash may be just a few bumps in a very confined area. The smaller the rash is, the less likely you (or your doctors) may notice it which can delay diagnosis and thus treatment. If you have an unexplained burning pain accompanied by numbness (an odd combination you cannot miss), examine your body carefully (ask someone to help with the blind spots if necessary).