Consider Using Creams Lotions Or Patches
Shingles can be very painful. If you need help managing pain, your doctor might prescribe a topical pain-relieving cream or patch. These contain lidocaine or other nerve block medication for the skin.
A medicated anti-itch cream that includes an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine , might also help you find some relief.
After the rash has scabbed over, you can try using creams or lotions to soothe any remaining symptoms. Look for products that contain:
- colloidal oatmeal
Your doctor may also recommend an oral over-the-counter pain reliever such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or acetaminophen . Always follow the dosage instructions on the label or take according to your doctors instructions.
‘how Can I Reduce Nerve Pain Caused By Shingles’: Dr Martin Scurr Answers Your Health Questions
18:49 EST, 8 February 2021 | Updated:
Ive had shingles for six weeks. Its no longer contagious but is very painful. My doctor has prescribed medications but they all make me sick. Is there anything that can reduce the nerve pain?
Jenny Johnson, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
How miserable for you to be suffering still with nerve pain. But fortunately, it is treatable.
Long-term pain following shingles becomes more common with age, with more than 18 per cent of over-70s with shingles experiencing it.
Herpes zoster is caused when the virus that leads to chickenpox is reactivated. This can lie dormant in nerve tissue, typically in an area of nerves just outside the spinal cord, for many years following initial infection.
As well as causing a painful rash of blisters, the virus triggers severe inflammation where it is lurking and eventually scars the nerve tissue, causing ongoing pain in many cases.
Painkillers dont work for shingles nerve pain. Instead, we usually prescribe the anticonvulsant drugs gabapentin and pregabalin, or a tricyclic antidepressant, says DR MARTIN SCURR
For the first 30 days, this is described as acute herpetic neuralgia it can be severely distressing, preventing sleep. In many cases, including your own, the pain continues long after this . If it persists after four months, its known as post-herpetic neuralgia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Usually, shingles develops on just one side of the body or face, and in a small area. The most common place for shingles to occur is in a band around one side of the waistline.
Most people with shingles have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Tingling, itching, or numbness of the skin
- Chills, fever, headache, or upset stomach
For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze. Its important to talk with your doctor if you notice any shingles symptoms.
If you notice blisters on your face, see your doctor right away because this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage and blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, inflammation of the brain can also occur.
Recommended Reading: Bundle Of Shingles Cost Lowes
What Can I Do For The Pain
Not everyone has the same amount of pain from shingles. Over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help ease the pain. A liquid medicine that you put on your skin can help cool the rash and stop the itching. Your doctor can give you pain medicine if your rash hurts a lot.
Sometimes the pain does not go away with the rash. This is called postherpetic neuralgia .
Treat Your Body And Mind
You can get worn down mentally when youâre in constant pain. Stress can make it seem even worse. Self-care starts with treating your rash, but donât stop there. Your mind and emotional state need to be cared for as well.
5. Stick with good habits: Your bodyâs working hard to fight the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles. To give it the right support, you can:
- Eat nutritious food and have regular meals. Ask someone to make a run to the grocery store for fresh fruit and such if youâre not up for it.
- Try to get a good nightâs sleep and rest anytime you need to.
- Do gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching. Light activity can help take your mind off the pain. Keep it simple though, and check with your doctor if youâre trying something new.
6. Distract yourself: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to put your focus elsewhere. Here are a few things to try:
Don’t Miss: How To Heal Nerve Damage From Shingles
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.
How Common Is Shingles
Shingles affects 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. More than 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed every year. The risk of shingles increases as you get older, with about half the cases occurring in people over the age of 50. Shingles develops in about 10% of people who have had chickenpox at an earlier time in their life.
Read Also: How Do You Know If Its Shingles
Recommended Reading: What Helps With Nerve Pain From Shingles
Oatmeal Or Baking Soda Baths
You’ll want to care for your uncomfortable skin safely and effectively while it heals. Soaking in oatmeal or baking soda baths can soothe your skin if you have a shingles rash.
Those home remedies can provide temporary relief for itching and can be soothing, said Dr. Strowd. Look for colloidal oatmeal or baking soda to add to cool bath water. Both of those ingredients can help calm itching and are gentle on the skin.
Grinding oat grain into a fine powder makes up colloidal oatmeal. It softens or soothes the skin because it contains fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. You’ll find colloidal oatmeal at many places that sell health and beauty products.
When Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine
The current shingles vaccine is a safe, easy, and more effective way to prevent shingles than the previous vaccine. In fact, it is over 90% effective at preventing shingles. Most adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office and at some pharmacies.
You should get the shingles vaccine if you:
- Have already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or shingles
- Received the prior shingles vaccine called Zostavax
- Dont remember having had chickenpox
Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.
You should not get vaccinated if you:
- Currently have shingles
- Are sick or have a fever
- Had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine
If you are unsure about the above criteria or have other health concerns, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.
You May Like: What Can You Put On Shingles
Apply A Baking Soda Solution To Relieve Irritated Skin
Another common remedy for itching thats easily available at home is baking soda. Add a little baking soda to a glass of water and apply the solution to relieve irritated skin. You can also try adding some baking soda to your bath water.15 Although its not clear how exactly baking soda works, its alkaline nature is supposed to be at work here.
Dont Miss: When Should Shingles Be Replaced
Can Shingles Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent shingles is through vaccination. Vaccinate your children for chickenpox. This vaccine reduces their risk for getting chickenpox. You cant get shingles unless youve had chickenpox first.
When you are older, get the shingles vaccine. It is recommended for adults 50 years of age and older. It can prevent shingles. People who have had shingles should get the vaccine to help stop the disease from reoccurring. Common side effects of the vaccine are headache, plus redness, swelling, itching, and soreness at the injection site.
The shingles vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:
- Has had an allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
- Has an allergy to any component of the shingles vaccine
- Has a weakened immune system due to conditions such as leukemia, HIV, or AIDS
- Is receiving treatment for cancer
- Is being treated with drugs that suppress their immune system, including high-dose steroids
- Is pregnant or might become pregnant within 4 weeks of getting the vaccine
Recommended Reading: Can You Have Shingles All Over Your Body
How Do You Apply The Vinegar
Some of the best apple cider vinegar remedies for shingles include:
- Soaking a hand towel in the liquid. Then, place it over the shingles rash. Allow the skin to absorb the apple cider vinegar.
- Mixing apple cider vinegar to your bath. Add four tablespoons of the liquid to your bathwater. Soak yourself in it for 20 to 30 minutes.
Skin Care And Itch Relief For Shingles
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
- A cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
- Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
- Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin
- Antihistamines to reduce itching
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
Read Also: How Do They Test For Shingles
Not A Fan Of Compresses Try This
If pain is too intense to apply a compress, dont worry. You can still use cool methods to help.
One further option in the vein of a cold compress is to take a cold bath. Then, apply some lotion or ointment to the afflicted area. This strategy will help in two ways. Firstly, the cold bath will cool down the skin. Then, the lotion will help to keep the skin nice and moist, helping to prevent irritation.
Dont like cold baths or compresses? Keep reading. The next home remedy is a tasty solution to shingles discomfort
Home Remedies And Lifestyle
In addition to triggering an uncomfortable rash, shingles can cause symptoms that are similar to those of other viral infections.
While prescription and over-the-counter drugs can help, one of the most important things you can do while dealing with the illness is to take good care of yourself. If you’re caring for someone else who has shingles, “creature comforts” can be enormously soothing.
Verywell / Laura Porter
Integrate these basic tactics into even the busiest daily routine:
Make Your Own Healing Paste From Baking Soda And Cornstarch
Many people usually have cornstarch and baking soda at home, making them an ideal item to heal shingles symptoms without going back out to the store. So what makes this different than using oatmeal or other ingredients? Two things really stand out about baking soda when it comes to treating infection its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to protect against further bacterial invasion of the wounded area by killing off bacteria which could cause infections such as gangrene or tetanus. Meanwhile, the benefits of cornstarch include being able to soothe skin irritations while providing comfort through its fluffy consistency. Combining these two ingredients will create a recipe with soothing benefits both internally and externally.
Heres how you can make up your own relief paste using just baking soda and cornstarch:
While baking soda and cornstarch seem harmless enough, the following recipe may have some people initially balk
Important Signs Of A Heart Attack
Facty Staff Writer
According to the CDC, 610,000 Americans die because of a heart attack every year. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize what is happening to them or call for help until it is too late. Heart attacks can manifest differently in women than in men, sometimes sidestepping traditional symptoms altogether. If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, seek emergency medical attention immediately by calling an ambulance or going to the ER. The sooner it gets caught, the higher the chance of survival.
Also Check: How Long Do The Blisters Last With Shingles
How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated
If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.
Stick To Loose Cotton Clothes
While your skin heals, it can feel extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Loose cotton clothing may help ease that discomfort.
To fight itch, “wear loose-fitting clothes with soft natural fibers such as cotton or linen,” said Dr. Strowd. “These will be more comfortable than tight synthetic fabrics or wool clothing garments.”
In addition, covering with cotton clothing will help you avoid infecting others, who could get chickenpox and later shingles. You are contagious until the shingles rash clears. That’s why dermatologists often recommend that you cover your rash to help prevent spreading the virus.
Recommended Reading: Can You Have Shingles And Not Know It
Study Assesses Relief Options Against Shingles Pain
- Study Assesses Relief Options Against Shingles Pain
The painkiller oxycodone is effective at treating the acute pain of shingles, an illness that often causes severe pain which can become long-lasting and sometimes even permanent.
The study, published in the April issue of the journal Pain, is one of the first to carefully evaluate different methods to relieve pain during a course of shingles, which many patients say causes the worst pain they have ever experienced. Effective pain treatment is crucial. Not only can the pain of shingles disrupt peoples quality of life, but it is also possible that the less effectively the pain is treated, the more likely it will become a long-term problem that can change a persons life forever.
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same bug that causes chicken pox, and only people who have had chicken pox are vulnerable to shingles. About 20 to 30 percent of people will get shingles at some point in their lives the odds climb to 50 percent for people who live to the age of 85.
For most patients, the first symptom of the infection is pain, quickly followed by a rash where the pain first appeared. The rash appears most often on one side of the chest or face, oftentimes causing dozens of small pimple-sized lesions. Some patients also get flu-like symptoms like a headache and lethargy. The illness usually lasts about three or four weeks.
What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Shingles
Most people get shingles once, but its possible to get it again.
If you have a healthy immune system, the blisters tend to clear in 7 to 10 days. The rash tends to go away completely within 2 to 4 weeks. The pain may last longer, but usually stops in 1 or 2 months.
For some people, the pain will last longer than the rash. When it does, its called postherpetic neuralgia , which can come and go or be constant. PHN can last for months, years, or the rest of your life. Treatment can help reduce the amount of pain you feel.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you continue to have pain. Treatment can help you feel more comfortable.
For anyone who has a shingles rash, the right self-care can help ease your discomfort. Youll find out what dermatologists recommend at, Shingles: Self-care.
ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . About shingles. Page last reviewed 10/17/2017. Last accessed 4/1/2019.
Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.
Madkan V, Sra K, et al. Human herpes viruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008: 1204-8.
Straus SE, Oxman MN. Varicella and herpes zoster. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1885-98.
How Long Does Shingles Last
Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.
- The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
- Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
- A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
- About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
- A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.