How long does shingles last?

Updated April 17, 2017

Shingles is a very common, and very painful, condition. If you treat shingles aggressively, it should subside earlier, and you're less likely to develop complications.


Shingles is really just chickenpox. The chickenpox virus, "varicella-zoster," lies dormant in the body's nerves and can reactivate, causing the painful condition shingles. Other illnesses or stress can lead to a shingles outbreak, as can age.


The first symptoms of shingles include tiredness, headache and sensitivity to light. Pain develops, usually shooting or burning, as well as tingling and itching. A rash of blisters then appears where the pain occurs.


People who have undergone a shingles outbreak can experience postherpetic neuralgia, a condition in which pain lingers in the rash spot long after the blisters have healed.


A shingles rash can take a while to heal--anywhere from two to four weeks. Complications can last longer, although postherpetic neuralgia usually disappears by one to three months after onset.


Treating shingles with antiviral medication within two days of developing the rash can help shorten its duration and reduce the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia.

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About the Author

J.D. Wollf has been a writer since 1999 and has been published in a variety of newspapers and newsletters. She has covered everything from local sports to computer accessory reviews and specializes in articles about health issues, particularly in the elderly.