As a wellness physician, my patients will come to me for the best way to manage health concerns with natural remedies. When one of my patients is suffering from shingles, the most common question is, how long does shingles usually last?
When a person has shingles, they usually first experience and odd sensation or tingling, burning, itching, or numb sensation in the skin, usually on one side of the body.
Within 1-3 days, a rash with clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters appear, sometimes surrounded by reddish skin. In 3-4 days the rash can become open sores.
After 7–10 days the blisters start to dry up and scab over. At this point, most people are no longer contagious.
Symptoms usually disappear after 2–4 weeks.
Addressing the shingles virus naturally is the most effective way to manage an outbreak. Natural treatments include essential oils, proper nutrition, and natural supplements that provide support for your immune system and help to manage stress.
Now that you know how long it typically lasts, let's take a look at each of the natural remedies for shingles and also answer any other questions you may have.
Dr. Angela Walk
Founder of Nashville Organix
What Cause Shingles?
Shingles is a condition that presents with a painful rash or blisters on the skin that is often shaped like a band or belt.
If you had chickenpox as a child you may remember the red, painfully itchy blister-like rash, and perhaps the fever and fatigue that came along with it.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox (varicella-zoster) and is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Reactivation occurs in approximately 10 percent of people who previously had chickenpox.
After you’ve had chickenpox as a child, the virus lays dormant in your body. A strong immune system usually keeps the shingles virus at bay, however, when your immune system becomes compromised or is weakened, it can cause the virus to reactivate and cause shingles.
It can affect people of all ages, but is most common in people over 50 and in individuals with a compromised immune systems (such as autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, from cancer treatment, diabetes, or infections that weaken the immune system).
The medical term for the shingles virus is “herpes zoster.” It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The first time a person is infected with the virus they get chickenpox, not shingles.
Up to 20 % of the population will develop shingles in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 people who live to age 80 will develop shingles.
The good news: It’s uncommon to get shingles again within three years, since your immune system is more prepared for the virus. But the reason why shingles can recur is clear: The virus becomes inactive inside your nerves but is able to reactivate in the future.
Who Is At High Risk For Developing Shingles?
Age greater than 50
Weakened immune system (such as from chemo, infection, etc.)
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles?
A person with shingles may have common symptoms of a viral infection, such as a fever, chills, fatigue, and a headache. However, shingles primarily involves a painful rash. This often develops on:
the waist, back, abdomen, or chest, often as a stripe shaped like a band or belt on one side of the body
the face, including the ears, eyes, and mouth
internal organs, such as those in the digestive tract or arteries in the brain
Is Shingles contagious?
Shingles itself is not contagious. But the virus that causes it can pass to someone who has never had chickenpox. That person may then develop chickenpox, and later in life, shingles.
If you do have a shingles outbreak, it’s imperative to know that this is contagious. In fact, you can pass the virus to anyone who isn’t immune to chickenpox if that person has direct contact with your shingles sores.
Before shingles blisters develop and after they have dried and crusted, there is no risk of transmitting the virus. The virus can transmit at any time between the appearance of the blisters and when they dry up.
Interestingly, if a person becomes infected, he or she will develop chickenpox, not shingles.
Natural Treatment For Shingles
Having shingles can be very frustrating, but gratefully it responds well to natural treatments. The most effective natural solutions focus on boosting the immune system, improving your nutrition, adding necessary supplements, applying essential oils, and managing stress.
What Foods To Avoid During A Shingles Attack
Supporting your immune system with good nutrition can shorten the duration, prevent reactivation and even prevent shingles from spreading to other parts of your body.
Avoid foods that create inflammation, diminish your immune responses and create an acidic environment.
Processed Foods ~ Processed food includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition.
They offer no real nutritional value and the preservatives and chemicals in these foods create inflammation in the gut and decrease immune function.
Sugar ~ I know when we feel ill, we often want comfort food and will turn to sugary treats. However, these foods decrease white blood cells that help fight off infection and decrease immune function significantly. Also avoid fruit juices with high amounts of sugar.
Caffeine & Alcohol ~ Both of these have a detrimental effect on your body's ability to fight against viruses, and therefore should be avoided when you're trying to ward off a round of shingles (or any other virus or illness, for that matter).
They also deplete the body of much needed hydration. I know this is a tough one, but should be considered to heal more quickly.
Carbonated beverages & Fried Foods ~ Sodas, fast food and fried foods promote a more acidic system, so try to avoid them during the acute illness.
Best Foods For Treating Shingles
A shingles healing diet consists of foods rich in B vitamins (B-12, B-6), Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and the amino acid lysine. Foods that promote healing include:
Foods High in B Vitamins: The nervous system is under attack by the shingles virus; therefore, it’s important to include foods high in B-vitamins such as grass-fed beef, cultured dairy, eggs, organic chicken and wild-caught fish.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C: Add orange and yellow fruits and vegetables to increase your vitamin C intake, which will help to boost your immune system and speed healing. Eat more citrus fruits, tomatoes & papaya
Foods Rich in Vitamin A: Enjoy more carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, red peppers, eggs and apricots
Foods Rich in L-Lysine: L-lysine is an amino acid that is shown to have antiviral effects and can shorten the duration and ease the symptoms of shingles.
Eat more foods rich in lysine such as eggs, tofu, spirulina, fenugreek seeds (a spice) and brewer's yeast. Your body can't make lysine, so you have to get it from food or supplements.
Foods that Boost Your Immune System: Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, spinach, broccoli, red peppers, turmeric and green tea — These foods are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and calcium and boost your immune function.
What Supplements Should I Take For Shingles?
Even in idyllic conditions, it's hard to get the nutrition we need from just our food. With soil health declining and toxicity on the rise, we need more nutrition than we can consume on a whole foods, organic diet to tip the scales in our favor and heal from viruses such as shingles.
So, when you are experiencing a health challenge such as shingles, supplementation is necessary.
Not all supplements are created equally. Be sure you do your research on the quality of supplements you choose. Take a deep dive into the ingredients and manufacturing practices before you start using them.
I only recommend high quality, premium supplements to my patients. This is the shingles supplement protocol that I suggest to my patients and we have seen great results.
Vitamin C - helps with immune system function, boosts white blood cells and has antiviral effects.
Vitamin B12 - helps promote faster recovery and reduced pain. It also improves energy and helps eliminate fatigue and exhaustion. B-Replete is a comprehensive supplement of B Vitamins that includes B12 and B6 and helps to improve immune function significantly.
Probiotic - I believe the single most important thing people can do to improve their health is to heal your gut. Probiotics maintain the proper balance of bacteria in your digestive system.
It has been shown that 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut, so it's important to keep that space healthy. An unhealthy gut can prevent healing throughout the body and can lead to a compromised immune system and other health concerns.
The best way to get probiotics is with fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented vegetables, and apple cider vinegar. However, if you don't eat fermented foods, a good quality probiotic is the best solution.
Vitamin D3 - Vitamin D is shown to have powerful effects on immunity. It's also important to note that vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of contracting shingles, so taking Vitamin D regularly can prevent future outbreaks.
How Much Vitamin D3 For Shingles
I recommend staying within the therapeutic range of 3,000-5000 units per day. (approximately 25 units per pound of body weight)
Elderberry - Elderberry has powerful immune-boosting, antiviral properties. Several studies conclude that elderberry may help to shorten the duration of cold symptoms and even viruses.
Elderberry is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some of the most popular forms are elderberry syrup, gummies and juice.
This is one of the primary supplement I recommend to my patients suffering from shingles.
Melatonin - Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is important for relieving stress and healing from any type of illness. Achieving adequate quality sleep may not be the easiest if you’re under stress, which in turn could worsen its severity.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates your body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle. Supplementing with melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. I recommend melatonin in liquid form. This one is lemon flavored. Yum!
Ashwaghanda - Ashwaghanda is an adaptogenic herb native to India, where it has been used in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems.
According to studies, supplementing with ashwaghanda was strongly associated with greater reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. It was also linked to a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Best Essential Oils For Shingles
Essential oils have enhanced lives for thousands of years with their powerful medicinal properties. Essential oils have plant based intelligence that seeks imbalances in the body to support health and have been used successfully with numerous skin conditions.
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects, and immune boosting qualities and that is particularly important considering shingles is related to a weakened immune system and oxidative stress.
Lemon Balm Essential Oil - Lemon balm has been studied extensively for it's ability to actually reduce pain following a shingles outbreak. It is known for being helpful in the reduction of the symptoms of nerve damage as well as boosting nerve receptors.
It even outperformed other traditional topical remedies that are typically recommended for shingles pain.
Tea tree essential oil - Tea Tree offers strong anti-viral support and can significantly combat skin irritations. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing.
Lavender Essential Oil - Lavender is probably the most popular and well know essential oil. It is known for it's relaxation properties and the positive effects it has on anxiety and sleep.
It is also useful with pain and preventing the spread of the shingles virus. Lavender has anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties.
This makes lavender oil ideal for promoting skin health, relieving painful irritation, and even providing soothing and calming effects on the body and mind.
Peppermint essential oil - Peppermint essential oils are also known to put a relaxing effect on muscles. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic capabilities that make them among the more popular essential oils for nerve pain.
It has a characteristically warming effect upon application, followed by a numbing relief.
Turmeric Essential Oil - Turmeric is well known for it's ability to calm inflammation. Turmeric has very potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, earning it a spot in the top widely used spices throughout history.
Not only does turmeric help with nerve pain, but it also helps with joint and muscle pain as well. Turmeric essential oil provides the same benefit when applied to the skin.
This makes turmeric essential oil great for nerve pain relief and can even speed up the repair of any damaged or injured nerves.
Essential Oil Recipe For Shingles
You can take 2 drops of an essential oil and mix it with 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it on areas of shingles pain. You can also combine these oils and make a blend to support shingles. Diffusing oils also has antiviral benefits.
I've combined these 5 essential oils in my topical shingles cream. Take a look at the other ingredients here.
Topical Cream For Shingles
Scratching a shingles rash can cause scarring and prolong blisters. Using soothing topical creams can calm persistent itching. Most of the topical creams on the market are full of unnatural ingredients and do not provide deeper healing.
Avoid lotions that include toxic chemicals such as parabens or synthetic fragrances they can cause further irritation.
I handcrafted an organic topical cream that contains all natural ingredients such as coconut oil, aloe vera, manuka honey, colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and each of the healing essential oils I mentioned above.
We've taken the guesswork out of combing natural ingredients and essential oils to calm itching, soothe painful skin, and prevent spreading. Take a look at our Shingle-X butter stick for fast relief.
Drink Plenty of Water
Adequate hydration is the key to flushing out shingles or any virus in your system. You should try to consume a ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs., you need at least 75 ounces of water per day.
Manage Stress and Get Good Quality Sleep
The more stress we we experience in our lives, the more health challenges we will have. Make time to practice those things that manage your stress levels.
Exercise, mental health walks, meditation, time out with your friends, playing in the dirt, reading...Whatever works for you.
According to Mayo Clinic, reducing stress in your life as much as possible is actually a key shingles natural treatment. This lifestyle change can help to prevent and treat shingles since stress reduction is such an overall immune system and health booster.
We all need 7-8 hours of sleep per night for proper health and immune strength. Try our Sleep Assist Essential Oil Blend or one of our premium melatonin supplements for a more restful, restorative sleep. I also recommend CBD for reducing the pain and inflammation.
Final Thoughts & Encouragement
Gratefully, most shingles cases are highly manageable with natural treatments. We can all make a greater effort to boost our immune systems and manage stress to create a greater defense against viruses including shingles.
Wishing you health & happiness!
Dr. Angela's BEST RECOMMENDATIONS
PLEASE NOTE: I ONLY recommend products, supplements & essential oils in my posts that 1) I have personally crafted myself and I know exactly what is in them.
2) I personally use and love and trust the quality 3) I have recommended to my patients and know the efficacy and have seen the therapeutic value.
Vitamin C - improves immune function and boosts white blood cells
Vitamin B Complex - promotes a faster recovery, improves energy levels, and decreases pain
Vitamin D3 - immune support and antiviral effects
Probiotics - promotes a healthy gut and immune response
Elderberry Syrup - powerful immune-boosting, antiviral properties
Melatonin Liquid - Lemon Flavored - a natural hormone that brings balance to sleep cycles
Ashwaghanda - an adaptogenic herb for stress support, immune support and hormone balance
Dr. Angela's Shingles Complete Care Bundle - Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and topical butter stick
Sleep Assist Essential Oil Blend - a proprietary blend of essential oils to support restorative sleep
Shingle-X Butter Stick - Dr. Angela's topical relief stick
Hi, I'm Dr. Angela Walk...
I have been involved in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years as a health & wellness physician. I have written extensively for health publications and I am keenly aware of trends and new developments in natural health.
I embrace an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. My goal is to inform my readers of natural options available to them in hopes of improving their health and quality of life.