Recovery time for shingles

Updated February 21, 2017

It is estimated that 1 million Americans develop shingles each year, causing painful itching, irritation, and inflammation. Similar to childhood chickenpox, people suffering from shingles are unable to function normally and partake in normal everyday activities during recovery. Recovery time for shingles ranges from person to person, as there are a variety of factors that contribute to the length of recovery.


Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. It generally occurs in adults who developed chickenpox during childhood, as the virus can remain living inactive in the body for years. People who develop the virus at an older age will have a longer time recovering than those who develop it younger.


Symtoms during the first few days of shingles include a red, blistering rash that covers all parts of the body. Itching, inflammation and severe irritation are caused as a result of the rash erupting. After 2 to 4 weeks, symptoms will begin to subside, and the skin will begin to appear normal again.


If a prescription antiviral treatment is started with 72 hours of the rash forming, the recover time can be shortened. To help ease the discomfort of the rash, use calamine lotion and bathe with oatmeal, just as you would treat the chickenpox.

Factors in Recovery

The time it takes to recover will depend on your age, immune system and predisposition to the virus. If you are over the age of 50, shingles can be a life threatening ailment and recovery time will be prolonged. Those with weak immune systems, including people who are HIV positive, will have a hard time fighting off the virus and will have longer recoveries as well.

Normal Recovery

A healthy adult usually recovers fully from shingles in five weeks. The first 3 to 5 days are when the rash and blister begin to form. After 2 to 4 weeks, the blisters begin to reduce in size and the skin returns to normal. After 5 weeks, the pain subsides and irritation ceases.

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