Home Remedies For Shingles
Anyone who had chickenpox as a kid remembers the red, painfully itchy blister-like rash, and perhaps the fever and fatigue that came along with it. But even though it’s true you’re now inoculated against chickenpox for life, there’s one pox-related complication you may not have considered: Shingles. Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus , and causes a painful, itchy rash in one place on the body. Shingles is most common in adults over 50 years of age in fact, about half of people over age 80 may experience it.
Shingles often begins as pain and itching in the skin before a red rash appears one to two days later, with small, water-filled blisters. These blisters soon rupture and scar over, healing and fading over the course of a few weeks. This process can be extremely uncomfortable and painful, making even the littlest actions difficult. There is a vaccine available to prevent shingles, and it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for healthy adults over age 50. For those who are over age 65 and eligible for Medicare, your Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan may cover this vaccine. Luckily, there are also home remedies for shingles that can make you feel better while you heal. Watch this video to learn how to soothe pain and discomfort at home.
How To Treat Shingles
This article was co-authored by Lydia Shedlofsky, DO. Dr. Lydia Shedlofsky is a Resident Dermatologist who joined Affiliated Dermatology in July of 2019 after completing a traditional rotating internship at Larkin Community Hospital in Miami, Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduation, she moved to Beira, Mozambique, and worked as a research assistant and intern at a free clinic. She completed a Post-Baccalaureate program and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Medical Education and a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 16 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 586,637 times.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a distressing skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus . This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, VZV stays in the body. Usually the virus causes no problems. However, now and again the virus reappears, causing nasty blisters called shingles. The following article will describe the treatments for shingles.
Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
Do not get the shingles vaccine if:
- You have a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to any ingredient of a vaccine or to a previous dose of Shingrix
- You have shingles now.
You are sick with an illness and a fever of 101Â°F or higher.
- You should also consider delaying the vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Not enough is known about its safety for expectant and lactating women.
- You have had a negative test for varicella this would be uncommon for adults eligible for the vaccine, as most adults worldwide ages 50 and older have been exposed to the virus. You do not have to be tested before getting the vaccine.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Ive had chickenpox. Am I at risk of developing shingles?
- What is the best treatment for my shingles?
- The pain from shingles isnt going away. What can I do to make myself more comfortable?
- Im on treatment for shingles. When should I call my doctor if things dont get better?
- I have shingles and my children havent had the chickenpox vaccine. Should I get them vaccinated?
- Is the shingles vaccine right for me?
- Are there any risks associated with the shingles vaccine?
- Will my post-herpetic neuralgia ever go away?
- If Ive never had the chickenpox, should I still get the shingles vaccination?
Other Complications Of Shingles
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision. If the shingles virus attacks the ear, people may develop hearing or balance problems. In rare cases, the shingles virus may attack the brain or spinal cord. These complications can often be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible.
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Can You Go In The Sun With Shingles
Shingles is a miserable condition. The painful, blistered rash can throw a monkey wrench of discomfort into your normal day-to-day routines .
But what about spending time outdoors? Is it OK to go in the sun if you have shingles? The answer is yes and no.
Being out briefly in the sunshine while, say, running errands wont harm you. But something like a day at the beach? Not a good idea.
You should avoid prolonged sun exposure if you have shingles because:
- The area of skin affected by the shingles rash is already tender and fragile, so excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure, such as sunshine, can further damage that skin.
- The rash cannot tolerate sunscreen, so youd not be able to protect it from the suns UV rays.
- Sunshine can trigger an episode of shingles, so youre vulnerable to another round of it if you get out in the sun too quickly after the blisters dry up.
- You shouldnt be exposing the rash to open air, anyway, while youre in public always keep a shingles rash covered when youre out and about to avoid spreading the virus to people who have never had chickenpox .
All that said, some sun exposure may be unavoidable when you have shingles. You should simply do your best to minimize it. Keep the rash covered with clothing or with loosely applied gauze bandages when you go out. When walking or sitting outdoors, stay in shaded areas or use an umbrella to shade yourself.
Other ways to treat shingles after going in the sun:
Are There Shingles Home Remedies
People who have shingles symptoms and signs should see their doctor as soon as possible, because antiviral medication is effective only if given early. Individuals with facial, nose, or eye symptoms and signs should seek medical care immediately.
- Do not scratch the skin where the rash is located. This may increase the risk of secondary bacterial infection and scarring. Over-the-counter antihistamines and topical creams can relieve the itching.
- After diagnosis and appropriate treatment, apply cool tap-water compresses to weeping blisters for 20 minutes several times a day to soothe and help dry the blisters. This also aids in removing the scabs and decreases the potential for bacterial infection. Tap-water compresses must be stopped once the blisters have dried, so the surrounding skin does not become too dry and itchy. Remember that weeping blisters contain the virus and are contagious to individuals who are susceptible to the chickenpox virus.
- Keep the area clean with mild soap and water. Application of petroleum jelly can aid in healing. Wear loose clothing to avoid extra pain from clothing rubbing against the rash. Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with others who have not had chickenpox, are ill, or who have a weakened immune system.
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Does The Use Of Calamine Or Antihistamine Provide Symptomatic Relief From Pruritus In Children With Varicella Zoster Infection
Minju KuruvillaIsabel Margarson
A 2yearold girl presents with chickenpox. The girl has typical vesicular lesions but has no evidence of complications on examination. Her mother reports that she is scratching continuously and has had very little sleep over the past few days as a result of the pruritus. Considering the therapeutic options, we wonder whether there is any evidence to support the use of either calamine lotion or antihistamines to alleviate pruritus in varicella zoster infection.
Preventing The Virus Spreading
If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.
You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.
Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:
- women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
- people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
- babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus
Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.
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How Long Does Shingles Last
Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in two to four weeks. In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. But people with weakened immune systems may develop shingles blisters that do not heal in a timely manner.
May Provide Relief From Sunburns
Sunburns are often accompanied by acute itching and redness. Applying calamine lotion can relieve these primary symptoms. It may also moisturize and soothe the affected dry areas .
However, if the small blisters break, apply an antibiotic cream and not a moisturizing lotion like calamine. In case the rash gets worse, seek medical help .
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Who’s At Risk For Shingles
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, but the risk increases with age. People older than age 60 are up to 10 times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Some cancer medicines
- A weak immune system from illnesses such as cancer or HIV
A quarter of adults will develop shingles at some point, and most are otherwise healthy.
How Should I Use Calaclear
Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor.
Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin.
Shake well before using.
Clean the affected area with soap and water and let it dry before each use. Apply Calaclear to the affected skin up to 3 to 4 times daily.
Stop using Calaclear and call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve within 7 days, if they get worse, or if they disappear and occur again within a few days.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
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Is Shingles Prevention Possible Is There A Shingles Vaccine
Prevention of shingles in people who have contracted chickenpox is difficult, since the factors that trigger reactivation are not yet defined. However, if a person is never infected with the virus, shingles will not develop. Furthermore, there are at least two methods that are currently used to reduce the incidence of shingles.
First, the VZV vaccine, otherwise known as the chickenpox vaccine, may decrease the incidence of shingles by enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight off VZV or keep this virus inactive. This vaccine is usually administered to children, but the immunity may decline in about 15-20 years. The single-dose vaccine dose is given to babies 12-18 months of age. Most vaccine side effects, if they occur, are mild and range from a rash, skin redness, and swelling to small chickenpox lesions, usually at the injection site. Boosters of this vaccine for use in adults are now being investigated and may help prevent shingles in the future.
Shingrix is the vaccine the CDC currently recommends as the preferred shingles vaccine. Two doses about 2-6 months apart are more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and PHN, and it is recommended for use in people 50 and over. Side effects of Shingrix may occur and last about 2-3 days and may include redness and swelling at the inoculation site. Some individuals may experience muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, and nausea.