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How Long Dies Shingles Last

What Are Some Common Treatments For Shingles

Shingles: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment with Dr. Mark Shalauta | San Diego Health

The CDC recommends that adults 50 years or older receive two doses of the shingles vaccine. Additionally, several antiviral medicines like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are available to treat shingles and shorten the length and severity of the illness. These medicines are most effective when taken immediately after the rash appears.

How Long Does Shingles Last

Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.

  • The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
  • Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
  • A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
  • About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
  • A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.

What Increases The Risk Of Long

The risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia increases with age. Four weeks after getting shingles,

  • 27% of 55- to 59-year-olds and
  • 73% of over 70-year-olds had nerve pain.

Women seem to be more likely to have longer-lasting nerve pain than men. Post-herpetic neuralgia is also more likely to develop if your eyes were affected by shingles.

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Who Should Avoid Getting The Shingrix Vaccine

You should not get Shingrix if you:

  • Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the Shingrix vaccine
  • Currently have shingles
  • Currently are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus
  • Have a moderate or severe illness with a temperature of 101.3º F
  • Have gotten Varivax less than eight weeks ago

Who Is At Risk For Shingles

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About 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Cases are more common in older adults, but doctors say even children get shingles.

Shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in their body. The virus can reactivate later, causing shingles.

“Not everyone who had chickenpox will develop shingles,” Wigand-Bolling noted.

Two other things to keep in mind: You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles, the CDC says. However, you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine.

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Is There A Vaccine For Shingles

There are two shingles vaccines currently available, Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix vaccine, a newer vaccine, is preferred over Zostavax for the prevention of shingles and its complications. Two doses of Shingrix given 2 to 6 months apart are recommended for healthy adults 50 years of age and older. Shingrix is also recommended for adults who have previously received Zostavax. A single dose of Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in certain cases for healthy adults 60 years and older.

What Does Early Stages Of Shingles Look Like

Shingles progress through several stages as the virus replicates in your body. Shingles start as a rash with red bumps, known as papules, distributed most frequently over your back and torso.

Within several days, grouped blisters are present. Within seven to ten days, the vesicles dry up and crust.

The early stage of shingles looks like small, red, raised, solid pimples or an inflamed rash. These are tiny, raised bumps on the skin. Eventually, these bumps blister and later crust. The beginning stages of shingles create tingling and localized pain.

The early stages of shingles are also described as itching, burning, or deep pain. People who have had shingles also described the early stages as similar to the beginning of the flu.

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What Does A Mild Case Of Shingles Look Like

Not everyone with shingles will develop a blistering rash. A mild case of shingles may include a red rash without blisters. The shingles rash and blisters are distinct characteristics of the illness. Mild cases of shingles do not usually cause headaches, fever, or fatigue.

Whether mild or severe, pain is the most common symptom of shingles. Most people describe a deep burning, throbbing, or stabbing sensation. The pain usually subsides within 30 days.

How Long Does It Take For Shingles To Progress

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Shingles progresses into blisters over three to five days and begins to crust over after seven to ten days. The rash is preceded by a prodromal phase lasting 48-72 hours or longer, consisting of throbbing pain and numbness in the area affecting the nerve. Once the rash blisters, it can last another three to five days before the lesions scab over.

After the lesions crust over, it may take two to four weeks to heal completely. At this time, pain may still be present. The most painful stage of shingles is when you have fluid-filled blisters. This usually occurs three to five days after the rash first appears.

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How Long Does Postherpetic Neuralgia Last

Postherpetic neuralgia can last for weeks, months, or in some people, years after the shingles rash goes away. In most people, shingles pain goes away in one to three months. However, in one in five people, pain lasts more than one year.

The pain from PHN can be so severe in some people that it disrupts their life. Researchers dont know why some people have severe or long-lasting pain and others do not.

Tingling Pain Or Numbness

During the first stage of shingles, before anything appears on your skin, a particular area of your body may begin to feel different. When a shingles outbreak is starting, you may feel itching, burning, or pain,” Kim says. Often you will feel this on only one side of your body.

The initial signs of shingles may feel different for each person. In some cases, shingles can cause intense sensitivity, making it painful to even wear clothes over your skin, while in other cases, your skin may feel numb.

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How Long Does Shingrix Last

The immunity conferred from Shingrix for the prevention of shingles is thought to last longer, and be more effective than the previous shingles vaccine, Zostavax.

The immune response from the shingles vaccine Shingrix is reported to be at least nine years based on the cellular response to the vaccine according to the CDC. However, âimmune responseâ doesnât necessarily correlate to vaccine effectiveness in terms of preventing episodes of shingles.

Other data indicates that the Shingrix vaccine maintains greater than 90% efficacy at least four years after vaccination according to GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the vaccine.

In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine has reported that Shingrix maintains around 88% efficacy at least four years after vaccination in patients vaccinated 70 years of age or older.

Check If You Have Shingles

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The first signs of shingles can be:

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

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Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles

You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.

This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or .

Get an urgent GP appointment

A GP may be able to treat you.

Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.

What Can I Do For The Pain

To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. This could include acetaminophen or ibuprofen .

Applying a medicated anti-itch lotion to the blisters might reduce the pain and itching. Placing cool compresses soaked in water mixed with white vinegar on the blisters and sores might also help.

If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medicine.

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How To Prevent Transmission

You cant catch shingles, and you cant give shingles to someone else. But you can give others chickenpox.

After you have chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays dormant in your body. If this virus reactivates, shingles occurs. Its possible to transmit this virus to others who arent immune while the shingles rash is still active. You are contagious to others until all areas of the rash are dried up and crusted over.

To catch the varicella-zoster virus from you, a person has to have direct contact with your rash blisters.

You can help prevent your transmission of the varicella-zoster virus by:

  • keeping the rash loosely covered
  • practicing frequent handwashing
  • avoiding contact with people who may not have had chickenpox or who havent been vaccinated against chickenpox

Last medically reviewed on August 24, 2017

10 sourcescollapsed

  • Cohen KR, et al. . Presentation and management of herpes zoster in the geriatric population.

Who Is At Risk Of Getting Postherpetic Neuralgia

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Factors that increase the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia include:

  • Older age: The chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases with age. If youre older and develop shingles, youre more likely to develop PHN and have longer lasting and more severe pain than a younger person with shingles. About 10 to 13% of people over age 50 who have had shingles will get PHN. People under age 40 rarely get PHN.
  • Weakened immune system: Your immune system weakens as you get older, which allows the inactive varicella-zoster virus to become active again and cause shingles in some people. Medical conditions that can weaken your immune system include cancer, chronic infectious diseases , being an organ transplant recipient or taking medications that weaken your immune system .
  • Severity of your shingles: If you have a severe rash, you have a greater chance of PHN.
  • Painful, itchy or tingly feeling before shingles rash: If you had these symptoms in an area of skin a few days before your shingles rash broke out, you are at higher risk of PHN.
  • Waiting to see your healthcare provider after shingles rash: If you wait longer than three days after your rash appeared missing the window to receive antiviral drugs you have an increased chance of PHN.

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How Can I Take Care Of Myself

  • Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
  • Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
  • Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
  • You develop worsening pain or fever.
  • You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
  • The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
  • The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
  • You have trouble walking.

Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine: Is It Safe

Shingles is a painful rash caused by varicella zoster, the same virus responsible for chickenpox.

If you had chickenpox as a child, the virus hasnt completely gone away. It hides dormant in your body and can reemerge many years later as shingles.

About 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. This is why vaccination is important. But you should also be prepared for possible side effects. In this article, well discuss the side effects, and talk about who should get the vaccine.

Older adults are most likely to develop shingles. This is why the shingles vaccine is recommended for people ages 50 and older.

Shingrix is the only shingles vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration .

The Shingrix vaccine is a recombinant vaccine. This means vaccine manufacturers created it by altering and purifying DNA that creates an immune response to fight the virus.

The CDC recommends Shingrix for the prevention of shingles and related complications. The Shingrix vaccine is also recommended for anyone who has already gotten another type of shingles vaccine.

Currently, the CDC recommends healthy people ages 50 and older get the Shingrix vaccine. Doctors administer the vaccine in two doses, which are given 2 to 6 months apart.

The Shingrix vaccine has high success rates in protecting people against shingles.

The Shingrix vaccine is as much as effective in preventing shingles. The same is true for Shingrix and postherpetic neuralgia.

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Who Should Get Shingrix

Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.

You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:

  • Received varicella vaccine

There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.

If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.

Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.

If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.

* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.

How Is Shingles Spread

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A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. A person cannot get shingles from a person that has shingles. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or had the chickenpox vaccine. The person exposed to the virus would develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. The blister fluid is filled with virus particles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone .

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What Are The Symptoms

The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.

One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.

Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

When Should I Contact A Doctor For Shingles Symptoms

As soon as you believe that you may be experiencing a shingles infection, let your doctor know. Starting treatment with an antiviral medication within 3 days of your rash appearing can help decrease the severity of your infection and prevent PHN.

Even if you have had the rash for longer than 3 days, contact your doctor for advice on how to proceed with treatment.

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What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles infection . Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Shingles causes a painful, blistering rash and other symptoms. The rash most commonly occurs in a band pattern on one side of your body, usually on your trunk . The rash turns into blisters. As the rash/blisters go away, pain may remain. When pain remains, the condition is called postherpetic neuralgia.

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