How Long Do Shingles Last

Shingles is thought to affect around 250,000 people each year in the UK and is caused as a result of a reactivation in the body of the herpes varicella-zoster virus which is common also causes chickenpox. The majority of shingles cases in the United Kingdom are found in the over 50’s with over 166,000 people in that age group developing the viral infection each year. Shingles can affect people in different ways and some people and unable to do anything but rest during the full duration of the virus. A common question is “how long do shingles last?” The answer to this question will depend on the severity of the virus and the patient.

How long is person affected by shingles?

The broad answer to “how long do shingles last?” is around 2-5 weeks, this will be the length of time that it takes for the rash to form, develop, dry out and heal, however the virus can last both shorter and longer than this timescale depending on the treatment used.

There is no cure for shingles and the virus has to be left to run its course; the symptoms of pain and the rash that are apparent during this time can be helped through the use of various treatments, both natural and prescription medication.

Early symptoms of shingles

The first signs of shingles will be felt before any rash has appeared; these symptoms will often be a feeling of being un-well, headaches and nausea and on some occasions a high temperature. There are also feelings of tenderness, burning and tingling in the affected area which may be followed by redness and inflammation. It is possible to feel some pain during this time although it is more common for the pain to be felt once the rash has appeared.

If any of these early symptoms can be felt then it is wise to seek medical attention immediately so that treatment can begin. If medical advice has been sought early enough, this can dramatically reduce the time period and the answer to “how long do shingles last?” will be closer to a week or two.

The shingles rash

The first signs of the rash will be in the form of a band of red spots along the route of a nerve; these spots will quickly turn into blisters which will contain a clear or cloudy fluid. The blisters will continue to form over approximately five days and will eventually dry out and scab over before falling off leaving healed skin. If left without treatment, this process will take up to five weeks, by seeking medical attention as soon as the rash appears it will enable you access to antiviral medication which can speed up the recovery process making the answer to “how long do shingles last?” much closer to one week than five.

Antiviral medication is able to stop the shingles virus from multiplying and reduce the severity of the condition; it also provides adequate pain relief for symptoms.




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