Treatments and Remedies for Shingles

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Shingles is a viral infection characterized by painful rash and blisters in various areas of the body or face. This infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once infected, the virus will lay dormant in the body. Later in life, the virus is reactivated, possibly developing into shingles. In today’s post, we are listing down all the home remedies and treatments for this painful skin condition:

Home Remedies

Cooling Soak

A cooling soak helps ease pain and discomfort caused by shingles. Soak in cool (not cold) water for at least 10 minutes and then dry your skin completely. The right temperature is important because water that’s too cold could cause a skin reaction. The reaction could worsen the rash pain. Once you are done with your soak, pat the skin dry and wear loose clothing.

Cool Compress

Just like a cooling bath, a wet compress helps alleviate rash pain caused by shingles. The cool temps reduce inflammation and swelling too. Just soak a small towel or cloth in iced water, give it a good squeeze and apply directly on the affected area. Do not use a cold compress or ice packs to relieve shingles pain.

Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal reduces itchiness, irritation, and other discomforts caused by shingles. To use oatmeal to a comforting soak, transfer two to three spoonful of oatmeal to a sock or muslin cloth. Tie the ends of the cloth with a string and chuck it into a bathtub full of lukewarm water. Give the oatmeal a few minutes to infuse into the water before stepping in for a soak. After soaking, pat yourself dry and apply calamine lotion on itchy skin.

Treatments for Shingles

Antiviral Medication

The most common treatment for shingles is antiviral medicine. Drugs – such as aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir – will neutralize the infection and calm redness. Usually, you will be prescribed an antiviral medication that you will take up to 10 days.


Over the counter painkillers are effective in managing pain and discomforts caused by shingles. Paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, opioids, and antidepressants are just a few drugs that reduce pain and skin inflammation. However, note that some of these medications cause a variety of side effects including stomach ulcer, kidney and liver problems.

Opioids and antidepressants are reserved only for severe pain. Codeine is a stronger type of painkiller prescribed alongside paracetamol to reduce shingles pain. Occasionally, morphine is also prescribed to manage shingles pain. Antidepressants – such as amitriptyline, imipramine and nortriptyline – are proven effective in relieving nerve pain.


Anticonvulsants are medications that control seizures. These drugs are typically prescribed to patients suffering from epilepsy. However, the drug can ease nerve pain too. Anticonvulsants – such as gabapentin and pregabalin – are commonly prescribed drugs to control shingles pain.

But again, there are side effects to using these medications. Drowsiness, increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, and weight gain are just a few of the side effects of taking anticonvulsants. If pain from shingles does not improve, your doctor will gradually increase your dose until the pain is managed effectively.

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