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How Long does Shingles Last, Recovery Time, with Valtrex, Nerve Pain & Untreated

You are probably wondering how long shingles last especially if you’re having these nasty viral rashes for the first time. Read on to learn how long shingles stay, recovery time  with treatment like valtrex, when untreated and nerve pain

How long does Shingles Last?

An approximate of 3 to 5 % of people who have experienced chicken pox at any point in their life, stand a very high chance of getting shingles. Once you get shingles, you experience episodes of discomfort and you can’t wait to heal. But after how long will shingles go way?

How lond does shingles last with or without treatment?

Shingles can go away on their own. The only reason people seek treatment is because they wish to fasten the healing process. The period after which shingles heal varies from one person to another. In most cases, Shingles last for 3 to 5 weeks. Shingles appear to be following a certain pattern. If you are keen, you will notice the following;

  • You will first experience a tingling pain and burning on one side of your body. Sometimes, you will have itching and numbness. This varies from one person to another.
  • Within the first five days, a red rash appears on the skin in addition to the pain and burning feeling on the skin. This is a crucial stage and you are advised to see the doctor straight away if the condition is unbearable.
  • After some days, the rash turns into fluid filled blisters. This is a sign that the shingles are drawing closer to the healing stage.
  • In 10 days, the blisters dry up and crust over. At this point, the pain and itching is gone and you do not experience so much discomfort.
  • After a couple of weeks, the scabs clear up. [1]

Dr Mehmet Oz explains that, although shingles could heal even in two weeks, the sufferer may have itchiness and pains even after the skin rash disappears.  The pain may be very severe that the affected person will have to seek further treatment. Even after the rash goes away, about 12% to 15% of the people who suffer from shingles experience pains.

A pain researcher Andrew Rice from the Imperial College explained that, if your pain goes up to or beyond 8 weeks, you are among the very unfortunate shingles patients. [2] Andrew explains that, there are several cases where shingles lead a long lasting pain commonly referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia, abbreviated as PHN.

This is an unfortunate pain that prolongs the period of your healing and is caused by nerve damage due to shingles. It is after the virus, varicella zoster, travelling down nerve fibers that you begin to experience a skin rash which is very painful.

Luckily, if you have PHN (post herpetic neuralgia), your pain may go away within the first 18 months after the shingles rash goes away. In the case where the pain doesn’t go away within that period, you will have to deal with it and your physician can take care of any necessary medication.

Dr Jeffery Wheeler from Mayo clinic backs up the above statements by explaining that, with proper treatment, shingles are no serious condition and will go away in no time. He however explains that shingles take a longer period to heal if you develop any complications such as PHN.

More research from Mayo clinic confirms that, some people tend to develop post herpetic neuralgia which causes a burning pain that lasts way too long after healing from the rashes. Pain from shingles may be experienced for weeks, months or sadly even years after your blisters heal.  You are advised to visit your doctor early enough to avoid such undesirable pains.

Important to note is that you should see your doctor without delay if at all the shingles are either on your nose or eye. This is so because, leaving shingles to heal on their own when in such areas may only cause permanent damage. To avoid a life time damage of these organs, seek medical assistance as soon as signs are noticed.

How long does shingles last with Valtrex

Among the best treatments for shingles is Valtrex because of the speed at which it works. For the best results, start using Valtrex as prescribed as soon as the first signs appear. This drug is also referred to as valacyclovir.

how long shingles stay valtrex

Even that, it is important to understand that Valtrex will not actually cure shingles but only fastens the healing process. Generically known as valacyclovir, it reduces how severe the length of the shingles outbreak is.

The most common prescription is 1000mg of valacyclovir three times a day. You are advised to take the drug within the first 48 to 72 hours after you notice the first symptoms which are burning and pain on one side of your body.

Valtrex is therefore ideal if you want to reduce the discomfort caused by shingles. Sores heal faster and new ones are prevented from forming with use of valacyclovir.[3]

Shingles Recovery time -off work

You are advised to stay away from other people if you are suffering from shingles under certain conditions. Shingles, unlike chicken pox, are not contagious.  The only time you will need to stay off work is if the rash is oozing fluids, commonly referred to as weeping, and cannot be covered. [4]

Even though shingles may not be contagious, the virus varicella-zoster can be spread from one person to another. When this virus gets to another person, the person develops chicken pox and since the virus stays in the body even after treating chicken pox, the person may eventually get shingles.

This explains why you need to stay off work until you are well or rather, until your blisters break to form crusty scabs. Once the scabs form, you can comfortably go back to work since the virus doesn’t spread in such a condition.

For the safety of others, stay away from people as long as your blisters are open with any fluids oozing. If it is possible, you are advised to keep the blisters covered. This is more crucial if you are always around children.

In conclusion, as long as your shingles have not formed the scab, do not get into physical contact with other people. There are groups of people who are very vulnerable and can get chicken pox from the virus that causes shingles. Such people include; pregnant women, newborns or anyone who has a weak immune system.

How long does shingles last untreated

You may want to allow the shingles to heal on their own. However, you must be ready to bear the pain for long period of up to five weeks.  Most doctors advise you to get treatment as soon as you can as allowing it to heal on its own may lead to complications.

Dr Wheeler encourages people to visit their health care as soon as the symptoms of shingles appear. He further explains that prompt intervention curtails chances of infection consequently decreasing chances of complications. [5]

As much as shingles is nothing to scare you, you should not leave it untreated and in the open. This is so as to avoid any possible spread. Apart from that, if shingles will prevent you from going to work, just get treated because leaving it untreated will force you to spend so much time away from what you love doing for a longer period.

Sources & References

[1] https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/shingles

[2] http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/news/20050725/best-treatments-for-lasting-shingles-pain#1

[3] http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-14126/valtrex-oral/details

[4] http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/s/article/shingles/

[5] http://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/shingles-not-just-a-band-of-blisters


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