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What is the duration of shingles?

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Quick Answer

Shingles can cause blisters that may require two to four weeks to heal, according to WebMD. When detected and treated early with antiviral medication and good home care, the duration of shingles symptoms may be reduced.

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Full Answer

Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, also known as herpes-zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox, reports WebMD. This virus remains dormant in the nerve roots after an individual recovers from chickenpox symptoms, and can reactivate when the immune system is weakened by disease, stress or aging,

Shingles usually causes headaches and flu-like symptoms initially, and may cause itching, tingling and pain in areas of the body that then develop a rash, according to WebMD. Blisters from this rash may last for up to four weeks, although in some individuals no rash develops. Starting antiviral medication immediately after being diagnosed with shingles may decrease the severity of the rash and help it heal more rapidly.

If a person experiences pain persisting longer than a month after a shingles rash heals, he may be diagnosed with postherpetic neuralgia, the most frequent complication of shingles. This condition may cause pain that lasts for months or even years, sometimes requiring prescription anesthetics or opioid pain relievers such as codeine, states WebMD.

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