Question

Dr. Joseph, Have you ever seen a case of Shingles lasted more than 1 month?! if yes in HIVer what about others who are HIV negative? Why do they keep having Shingles? my cousin is getting Shingles all the time and he is HIV negative, we don't have an explanation of his case. every doctor says it's a stress related so what do you think?

Answer

Shingles lasting over one month would be very unusual. First thing would be to confirm that it is indeed shingles which can be done by obtaining a viral culture or (if not available) a scraping to look for the effect of the virus on the skin cells under the microscope. The lesions of shingles can take a while to heal (they first blister than become pustules then crust over and can stay awhile while they are healing). The sores can remain raw if they are picked and not allowed to heal. Also, they may become infected with bacteria from the skin which may extend the healing process. If new lesions are appearing than it would indicate a problem with your cousin's immune system. If he is HIV -negative he should be evaluated by an immunologist to look for an underlying cause.

Good luck,

Joe