Shingles: how long does shingles pain last

Shingles: how long does shingles pain last

Shingles triggers a red, painful rash on one side of the body, usually the chest and abdomen, though any area can be affected. 
The condition starts of shingles with a tingling or burning sensation that progresses quickly to a painful, red rash, which erupts into itchy blisters.
The whole episode usually lasts for between two to four weeks and is triggered by the same virus that causes chicken pox — the herpes varicella-zoster virus.

Shingles: how long does shingles pain last
Shingles rash

How long does shingles rash last

Even when there is no rash, the pain of shingles may be apparent. Before a rash is visible, the patient may notice several days to a week of burning pain and sensitive skin. When the characteristic rash is not yet apparent, it may be difficult to determine the cause of the often severe pain, particularly if the individual has never had an attack of shingles.

Shingles rash starts as small blisters on a red base, with new blisters continuing to form for three to five days.  The entire path of the affected nerve may be involved, or there may be areas in the distribution of the nerve with blisters and areas without blisters. Generally, only one nerve level is involved. In a rare case, more than one nerve will be involved. Eventually, the blisters pop, and the area starts to ooze. The affected areas will then crust over and heal. The duration of the outbreak may take three to four weeks from start to finish. On occasion, the pain will be present but the blisters may never appear. This can be a very confusing cause of local pain.

Shingles: how long does shingles pain last

How long does the pain from shingles last with medication

Shingles outbreaks run a similar course to a chicken pox infection. During the first two to three days, people may feel tired and feverish. These symptoms are followed by development of a localized area of skin irritation. A tingling, itching or painful burning sensation will develop, most commonly on the upper body. However, shingles can develop on the extremities and face as well. The hallmark indicator of shingles is unilateral symptoms (one side of the body is affected). This is because the virus follows a specific nerve path, or dermatome, beginning in the spine and following the dermatome to the surface of the skin. 
The next phase of a shingles infection is a one-to-two-week period of blistering rash development. This rash is similar to chicken pox and can take seven to 14 days to scab over. Typically, another one to two weeks are needed for the lesions to completely heal.
A simple course of shingles can last anywhere from one month to several months. The severity and duration of the infection are dependent on the age and health of the affected person. According to the NIH, age and physical and emotional stress can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to prolonged shingles outbreaks.