How Long Does a Shingles Outbreak Last?

How long does shingles last

And when you have shingles, the only answer you can get behind is “Too long!” If you’re very lucky, it’s very mild. For many people, it itches, hurts, and blisters – and it can get you down. It can be very demoralizing. But how long does shingles last? Not forever.

AKA Herpes Zoster

It affects about a third of the population at some point. And half of those are over 60. Shingles, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), is a reactivation of chickenpox. It’s kind of amazing that you can have chickenpox as a small child, and it hangs out quietly for 50, 60, 70 years in your body. Then it decides to pop out and make your life miserable.

Herpes zoster usually only strikes once in a lifetime. But again, not everyone is that lucky. It can return.

Early Symptoms – a few days

  • Not counting all those years when it’s sitting around doing nothing, the first stage is when you begin to get symptoms. Before anything shows on your skin, you might start feeling pain, itching, tingling, heat, or numbness.

Rash – a few days

  • A rash comes up in the itchy or painful area.

Blisters – about 10 days

  • Blisters form in the area.
  • The blisters develop to the point where they start to ooze.
  • The blisters dry and scab over.

Scabs – about two weeks

  • The scabs dry up and fall off.

Other Possible Symptoms

Your body is trying to fight off the infection so that you may experience fever and fatigue, chills, headache, or light sensitivity.

Post-herpetic Neuropathy (PHN)

Sometimes a shingles attack ends, but it leaves behind nerve pain. This also can run the gamut from mild to severe. It tends to resolve slowly, but most of the time, it won’t last for more than a year.

It’s worth mentioning that the shingles vaccine reduces your chances of getting shingles, and reduces your risk for PHN if you do get shingles.


How long does shingles last? Too long. But not forever.