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How long does shingles last?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection triggered by the same virus responsible for chickenpox. It often appears as a painful rash in a band-like pattern on one side of the body. While more common in older adults and those with weakened immune systems, it can affect anyone.

If you or a loved one are currently dealing with shingles, it’s understandable to want to know how long the condition tends to last. But it’s important to note that various factors can influence its duration.

If you think you might have shingles, don’t wait to see your doctor. Book an online consultation with a pharmacist to get the care and treatment you need.

How long does shingles usually last?

Shingles typically lasts for about two to six weeks, but the duration can vary from person to person. These factors include: 

  • Older people often experience more prolonged and severe cases of shingles

  • People with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, may have longer-lasting episodes of shingles

  • Certain complications of shingles, such as postherpetic neuralgia (persistent nerve pain after the rash has healed), can prolong the overall duration of the condition.

The best thing you can do to improve your shingles quickly is start treatment within 3 days of the initial rash appearing, for more information read this article

Frequently asked questions about shingles

How long does shingles rash last?

The rash from shingles usually lasts for 2-4 weeks, but sometimes it can take up to 6 weeks. It really depends on the person. Getting treated early can make a big difference.

What makes shingles last longer?

How long shingles sticks around can be influenced by factors like your age, overall health, how quickly you start treatment, and if there are any complications.

Can shingles be shortened with treatment?

Yes, getting treatment early, like antiviral medications, can help shorten shingles. Acting fast can ease symptoms and make the illness shorter.

A man's torso with a severe shingles rash down one side

Think you might have shingles?

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What is Pharmacy First?

Pharmacy First is a new NHS-funded scheme that helps you quickly get the advice & treatment you need from a pharmacy, without needing to see a GP.

The conditions covered by Pharmacy First are:

Video consultations & advice are free of charge. If you pay for prescriptions you will be charged the prescription rate of £9.65 per prescription item.