How Long Does Shingles Nerve Pain Last? What You Need To Know

This article was reviewed by Dr. Emilija Ashtalkoska on August 29th, 2018. Products listed therein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.


Known medically Herpes Zoster, shingles is incredibly common and affects millions of people worldwide. Shingles start as a very small rash.

With time, the pain becomes unbearable, and the rash spreads. The question today would be how long does shingles nerve pain last?

The truth is, your shingles nerve pain could last indefinitely, although this depends on a number of factors.

For most people, shingles nerve pain will last up to four months. Let’s take a look at shingles nerve pain, the causes, symptoms, and conventional treatment to learn more.

Keep in mind this website does not provide medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you believe you have shingles.

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a condition characterized by painful skin blister usually on the face or across the chest and abdomen. It mainly affects adults, although in rare cases it can affect younger people.

Although the Zostavax vaccine is available and effective in the prevention of shingles, it is too expensive for many people to afford.

The Causes and Predisposing Factors

Shingles is a viral disease caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. You might have heard this virus in relation to chicken pox. The same virus causes Shingles.

This means that exposure to a person suffering from chicken pox will also pre-dispose you to shingles.

However, unlike with chickenpox, this virus can stay dormant in human nerve cells for a significant amount of time before reactivating to produce herpes zoster, also known as shingles.

Another predisposing factor is low immunity. The virus will be dormant for as long as possible just waiting for the period your body’s resistance will reduce (even temporarily).

Once that happens, the virus travels to the skin, full-blown, via the nervous system, multiplying along the way.

If you have ever suffered from chicken pox shingles can appear later in life. Statistics show that one out of every ten people who suffered chickenpox as kids get shingles as adults.

The how or when still remains a mystery. Age is yet another predisposing factor. In fact, the vaccine is only available for persons over 50 years old.

Although science is not exactly sure why shingles appear for some people and not others, we do know that a compromised or ailing immune system can oftentimes cause shingles to appear.

This is why shingles are prevalent among people suffering from chronic illnesses such as Lymphoma, AIDS, Leukemia, and most forms of cancer (especially for people undergoing chemotherapy).

The Symptoms

how long does shingles nerve pain last

If you have been on pain medication for quite a long time without permanent resolve, it is about time you went for further diagnosis.

Shingles start with a burning sensation and itching or tingling. Then once you scratch, a tiny red patch occurs and you experience mild pain.

The affected area is also very sensitive. With time, you will notice a stubborn red rash (say four days after the onset of shingles).

Some people form blisters, but others don’t. If your skin forms blisters, they should have a regular pattern and keep increasing regularly.

Ideally, shingles blisters align themselves to a single nerve, called a dermatome. In serious attack, they might form over two nerves, but this is rare.

Eventually, they will form a red base similar to chicken pox lesions. The blisters don’t end there. After 3 or so weeks, they start to collect pus and form a rough crust. The sight can be sickening.

Nevertheless, after forming the crust, they will begin to disappear.

Sometimes if you don’t treat them, it’s only a matter of time, before the rash comes back. Some people will start to experience nerve pain, which can be painful and disheartening.

Shingles Nerve Pain Usually Lasts Up To 4 Months

how long does shingles nerve pain last

For some people who develop shingles, nerve pain is an unfortunate outcome. For most people, this nerve pain can last anywhere from 3 to 4 months.

However, for about 12-15% of people, this nerve damage becomes permanent and the nerve pain can last indefinitely. If you believe you are suffering from shingles, talk to your doctor immediately.

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This powerful cream utilizes a number of natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Coconut Oil, Manuka Honey, Shea Butter, and more to help treat both your shingles and nerve pain.

Dermachange Shingles Symptoms Relief Cream utilizes powerful antifungal and antibacterial ingredients to help destroy the underlying cause of shingles, restoring the body and nerves to their natural and health states.

Treating your shingles is easy – simply apply a generous amount of the cream to the infected area up to six times per day, and eventually, your shingles will clear up and the nerve pain will dissipate.

We highly recommend utilizing this solution if you are dealing with shingles.

Adverse Effects of Untreated Shingles

Obviously, the blister patch will cause scarring on your skin, right? Sometimes, you will notice the color of your skin changing around the affected area.

You will continue to experience nerve pain that can last for years.

So how long does shingles nerve pain last? We could say a month to two (or more) years. The duration depends on the stage at which you were diagnosed and the treatment option you took.

Other severe adverse effects include:

• Hypersensitive skin
• Occasional fevers
• Sharp stabbing pain (which goes on even after the rash disappears)
• Constant itching
• Long-term nerve pain – or what we call PHN (Post-herpetic neuralgia)
• Nervous system complications. They include meningitis, loss of hearing, encephalitis, and loss of vision. Hearing and vision loss results mainly from shingles on the face. For example, shingles around the forehead or eye area could lead to blindness. Those on the cheeks will eventually affect your hearing. And so on.
• Opportunistic skin infections
• Weight loss

Unfortunately, for some people who experience shingles nerve pain for an extended period of time, the nerve pain damage might be permanent.

This is obviously the worst case scenario and will not happen to everyone, but it is crucial to talk to your doctor if you believe you have shingles.

The Treatment

how long does shingles nerve pain last

The most common treatment for shingles is antiviral drugs. These include Valtrex (Valacyclovir), Zovirax (Acyclovir), and Famvir (Famciclovir).

Such drugs are more effective when you detect the condition early (say within the first two days after the rash appears).

Previously, doctors used to prescribe corticosteroids with antiviral drugs in severe cases. However, recent scientific research shows that they do not necessarily contribute to treating shingles.

For PHN patients, painkillers (such as aspirin and acetaminophen) become the last resort.

The pain emanates from damaged nerve endings. In addition, these patients suffer from stress-related illnesses such as depression and insomnia.

When the blisters are infected, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics, mainly to be administered directly on the lesions.

At this point, wound dressing and hygiene are paramount. Where the condition has resulted in specific injuries like the loss of hearing or eyesight, you will need to visit the relevant specialists.

At home, cold (ice) packs come in handy for shingles patients. The cold calms the nerves and provides instant relief from pain.

Do not to use Ice packs for longer than 15 minutes at a time, because prolonged use may cause frostbite. Plenty of bed rest is also advised. When you rest well, your body’s defense mechanism rejuvenates, and you can fight the infection better.

For severe inflammation, take aspirin or ibuprofen. However, please do not pop the blisters. Instead, buy a rub on cream to apply on that skin.

Similarly, avoid any products containing Benadryl. With shingles, these products can cause irreversible skin reactions.

How Long Does Shingles Nerve Pain Last?

For many people, shingles nerve pain can last indefinitely.

Usually, shingles nerve pain will last up to four months, but if your pain does not go away after this time, it is likely that the nerves have become damaged and thus the pain will remain indefinitely.

This happens for about 12-15% of people who suffer from shingles nerve pain.

In Conclusion

Shingles can also appear in other areas such as your buttocks and genitalia. However, they will always be limited to one side of your body.

Unlike chickenpox, shingles are less infectious. But, if the blisters’ fluid breaks and contaminates someone who has had neither the condition nor chicken pox, they are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

We hope that this article answers the question; how long does shingles nerve pain last?

Remember that the sooner you diagnose shingles, the better your chances of a full speedy recovery.


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1 thought on “How Long Does Shingles Nerve Pain Last? What You Need To Know”

  1. How long does an episode of pain last? Thought I was getting over the post pain and am now for several hours I am in pain on upper torso under right arm. Stabbing /sensitive
    Thank you

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