Why Does Shingles Last So Long?

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that can cause a painful form of rash. This kind of rash can occur anywhere on the body. Because it is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, this can be linked to chickenpox. Depending on whether an individual has been previously vaccinated for chickenpox, this type of virus can spread to others.

Rashes can be caused by a variety of medical and non-medical conditions. Depending on the severity, certain rashes must be medicated with prescription medication. Even with prescription medication, many irritated, itchy or painful, skin conditions may benefit from additional treatment.

The rash is often identified as affecting one side of the body. Unlike chickenpox, it does not cover several parts of the body, nor is it typically splotchy in appearance. This particular type of skin rash has a few characteristics specific to its virus.

Symptoms may include:

  • burning
  • redness
  • soreness
  • blisters
  • itching
  • sensitivity
  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue

A burning sensation is usually felt by those who are affected. Numbness and tingling have also been reported as common symptoms of this type of rash. If the rash is touched or bumped, the pain sensation is heightened. The skin may be more sensitive to certain kinds of fabric or covering.

Fluid-filled blisters typically appear a few days after the pain. These blisters can be problematic to others if they are not covered. If a rash is located on the part of the body that does not need to be covered, such as the forearms or the face, blisters can spread this virus. Spreading can occur when one person touches or bumps against the fluid. After several days, blisters should crust or harden, which will act as a natural protection.

Although this type of skin condition is not life-threatening, many people find the rash to be uncomfortable. Not only can it be painful, but it is frequently itchy and distracting. As soon as this type of rash is discovered, early treatment is advised.

How Long Does It Last?

Shingles can last approximately 3 to 5 weeks. Depending on the individual, location of the rash, and severity of infection, the symptoms of this virus have been known to linger. On average, symptoms may change over time.

Many people feel a general discomfort that can include hot skin and sensitivity to touch in the beginning stages. As the rash progresses, many report feeling an itchy sensation accompanied by irritation and redness. A rash typically develops within five days of the virus.

The second stage occurs after the initial beginnings of a rash. After one week, fluid-filled blisters can form. These blisters can be excruciating and may break open before drying up. Scabs that form from this type of rash can usually benefit from natural creams or ointments to soothe burning or sensitivity.

At this stage of the virus, it is not uncommon for infected individuals to feel chills, fever, headaches, or nausea. If the rash has spread to the face, it can affect the eyes. Depending on the person, the severity may vary.

There are cases where symptoms last longer than a few weeks. This is especially true for those who have potential complications. These complications can include Post-herpetic neuropathy that can occur from nerve damage. Those who typically acquire nerve damage associated with this virus usually have a weakened immune system or are of advanced age.

If the virus causes other complications, these symptoms can linger for an indefinite amount of time. Complications can include hearing loss, loss of taste, ringing in the ears, and vertigo.

A Lasting Impact Can Occur

Without proper treatment, this virus can be long-lasting. Early treatment options can significantly reduce the risk for postherpetic neuropathy. In addition to potentially preventing pain that can last long after the rash has cleared, treatment can ease discomfort. The best cream for shingles does not include artificial scents that can be overpowering.

Lingering pain can happen to anyone who has contracted the virus. Some people continue to experience discomfort three months after the initial rash has healed. In some cases, the pain will go away on its own. Others may need over-the-counter treatment to help combat painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

Those who are at risk for lingering symptoms include:

  • the elderly
  • females
  • those who contracted a severe rash

Those who experienced symptoms that started before the rash appeared may also be more likely to experience a longer recovery. Individuals who reported significant numbness and tingling before blisters appeared may also have an increased risk.

What Is A Severe Rash?

A severe rash has all the symptoms of a typical rash, with a higher intensity. This particular virus can cause blisters that form on the face. This can be particularly dangerous if it is located near the eyes.

A severe rash can include a more extensive rash that takes up much of the torso or a rash that is especially sensitive to light touch. Regardless of whether the rash is severe or moderate, shingles cream or ointment can help ease painful symptoms. Any rash of this nature should be examined by a medical professional.


Treatment can take several forms. Certain medications may slow the progression of the rash. This is particularly helpful if it is taken within the first 72 hours of experiencing symptoms. When using prescription medication, complications are less likely to occur.

Since rashes can cause significant pain and discomfort, pain treatment is also used. Alternatives to prescription drug use include ointments or cooling creams. The best cream for shingles is often described as natural. Many people prefer over-the-counter shingles cream since it is non-addictive and easy to find.


This virus can cause significant complications if a trained medical professional does not physically examine it. Since this type of rash typically lasts for approximately one month, skincare ointments that treat pain and discomfort are often recommended. An examination from a medical professional can help diagnose the problem to move forward with their recovery.

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