Shingles is a condition caused by the herpes zoster virus that takes the form of a rash with blisters. This virus remains in your body after you've had chickenpox. One in five people have a chance of dealing with shingles when the virus "reactivates" within the body. Here are some common treatments to relieve shingles pain and irritation. If over-the-counter treatments do not work, please contact your doctor immediately, as long-term nerve damage can be caused by shingles.
Pain can be an issue for someone who has shingles, and it can last up to 30 days after the initial attack has healed. Over-the-counter medicines can help. Medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can relieve the pain caused by irritation. If this doesn't work, you can speak to your doctor about a prescription pain-relief option.
Like other rashes, calamine lotion offers temporary relief. Use a moist, cool compress to clean the area and apply the lotion afterward. Do not pick or scrub at the blisters. If left alone, they will crust over and fall off naturally.
Antiviral medicines are often prescribed to shorten the duration of shingles, as well as relieve pain. The medication can also keep the rash from spreading to other parts of the body. These medicines include Valtrex, Famvir, and Zovirax.
If a widespread area is affected by shingles, consider taking a cool bath. The water can help ease the painful irritation. Soak for as long is comfortable and dry skin completely with patting motions. Do not rub the area. Be careful to avoid cold water, as this could cause the skin to react and cause more pain. Afterwards, wash any towels you've come into contact with. Shingles can be spread by opened blisters.
Taking a lukewarm bath can also ease the irritation and pain associated with shingles. Colloidal oatmeal can be added to the bath to assist in the healing process. This mixture can be found at the drugstore. Simply add it to your bath and rest as long as it's comfortable. Do not use hot water because it will further irritate your skin, causing the rash to worsen. Dry your skin thoroughly with patting motions and wash any towels you've come in contact with.
Pain can often be caused by swelling, and over-the-counter medicines may not help. Your doctor may prescribe you a corticosteroid in the form of a pill that will relieve swelling. This treatment isn't common due to a risk of spreading the rash.
Sometimes the pain associated with shingles can be intense and unbearable. For those situations, nerve blocks can be administered. These are injections that contain a numbing anesthetic and occasionally a corticosteroid. This method relieves shingles pain immediately in more than 90% of patients.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) units are used to block pain signals from reaching your brain by using a weak electrical current. This is a painless current, but you will feel some tingling associated with the area of use. Some TENS units require you to place sticky pads on your body, so be sure to avoid sticking them on shingles blisters.
Studies have shown that low doses of antidepressants relieve pain caused by shingles. These work by blocking the transmitters that remove serotonin from the brain. Extra serotonin in the brain keeps pain from being registered.