Shingles is an infection due to the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. If you had chickenpox and the condition got better, the virus may still live within your nervous system, even for years! At the same time, it can reactivate as shingles. Shingles are also referred to as herpes zoster. The viral infection has a unique characteristic of a red skin rash that can cause burning and pain in a particular area. Shingles can appear as blisters on the body, generally on the neck, torso or face. Find out what is the treatment for shingles as you read on.
During the first stage, shingles cause a deep, burning pain somewhere in the skin. You may also have a fever or a headache, and as the infection progresses, you develop red skin lesions, which turn into blisters. The rash and blisters most commonly appear on the trunk of your body, but they may also occur around one eye, on the face or scalp, inside the mouth, or down an arm or leg. The blisters develop over several days and last seven to ten days before they develop a crust. At this time they can be very painful. You can also experience intense pain without a rash.
According to research, it is not sure how or why the zoster virus reactivates, but it is believed that the immune system may have weakened over the years after having childhood chickenpox. You are not at risk of developing shingles if you have had chickenpox, but the virus does not reactivate in everyone who has had the disease. The disease can occur at any age, but your chances increase as you get older. People with HIV often get shingles. If you have cancer and you are getting treatment, you are more likely to get shingles. The shingles virus is contagious and can be spread to others. Take precautions for yourself and family to avoid getting it.
Symptoms of shingles
Shingles occur with early symptoms like localize pain, fever and tingling sensation of the skin followed by a blistering rash. It can lead to itching, burning, and pain. There are different signs of shingles and they generally affect only a part of one side of your body. The signs include itching, sensitivity to touch, fluid-filled blisters that will break open and crust over, pain, tingling, numbness or burning, a red rash that begin to develop after feeling the pain. Blisters may cluster in patches or form a line that follows the path of the infected nerve. The blisters will eventually break, form crusts and then heal.
Here are a few other symptoms that many people with shingles experience. Sensitivity to light, chills, muscle weakness, headache, fever, and fatigue. People whose immune systems are weaker than what they should be, because of medical problems, can get shingles again. If you still feel pain after the blisters have healed completely, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter topical analgesic cream to help you feel more comfortable.
Treatments for shingles
There are different types of treatments used for shingles. For immediate relief for pain, the quickest way to soothe rashes is to apply a cool wet compress made with Burow’s solution like (Domeboro). Studies reveal that the solution reduces pain and also dries the blisters.
Antiviral medications: Mainly used to reduce the progress of rash and reduce complications. Here are a few medications that can slow down the shingles rash within the 72 hours of showing symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe, Valacyclovir (Valtrex), Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir (Famvir).
Anti-itch lotions like calamine can relieve the pain and itching of the rash. If the pain is severe or the rash is near an eye or ear, contact your doctor right away. There are other medications like corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. However, your doctor will decide the proper medication for your condition.
Painkillers: Shingles cause pain in the infected area. Painkillers are used to reduce inflammation and the burning pain of shingles. Your doctor may suggest some medication for discomfort such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen.
If you are having severe pain during your shingles outbreak or after the rash clears, you may be prescribed other medications such as Capsaicin cream (don’t get it in your eyes). A numbing medication like Lidocaine (Xylocaine, Lidoderm etc.) for pain. They may come in various forms like lotions, creams, powders, and sprays. Antibiotics may be ordered if bacterial infections occur with the skin rash. If there is no infection, antibiotics will not help the condition.
Tricyclic antidepressants: There are a number of such medications that help to ease the pain caused by shingles, for example, nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), amitriptyline and desipramine (Norpramin) etc. These medications are also helpful for depression due to shingles. Contact your doctor for all the risks and benefits.
Home Care for Shingles
There is no home remedy for shingles, However, you can follow some steps to help your skin heal faster. Although treatments are necessary it is also important to keep the affected area dry, clean, and open to air as much as possible, apply wet, cold compresses for reducing pain and itching, take colloidal oatmeal baths for easing the pain, When your doctor gives you the green light, stay sharp while you recover from shingles, gentle exercises or your favorite activity may help you to be more comfortable, try not to scratch or burst the blisters.
There are alternative treatment methods that can improve the symptoms of shingles such as healing baths which is a cool bath that helps to cleanse the blisters to reduce the spread of infection. Cryotherapy relieves pain associated with shingles. Applying soothing lotion and cream, these do not promote healing, but they can increase comfort which will reduce the urge of scratching. Cupping is done to increase the blood flow in the body and promote healing of blisters and rashes. Acupuncture helps to relieve pain during the early stage of the disease. TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) helps to reduce the burning pain due to inflammation of the affected area of the skin.
Follow dietary advice
It is important to follow dietary advice because when a person has shingles the body’s immune system function decrease, therefore, it is advisable to eat foods which will boost your immune system. It is wise to eat foods rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and amino acids.
Eat yellow and orange fruits (orange, bananas, mango, pineapple). Dark green vegetables (Bok choy, lettuce, broccoli), Leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale). Red meat (Beef, lamb, mutton). Eggs (chicken eggs, duck eggs). Dairy products (Yogurt, curd, ghee, cheese). Legumes (Beans, peas, lentils). Whole grains (Barley, brown rice, wheat, millet, oatmeal). It is also important to avoid too many sugar-rich foods like chocolate, nuts, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats.
How to prevent shingles
What is the treatment for shingles: Vaccination is a good way of preventing shingle symptoms or complications from shingles. All children should receive 2 doses of chickenpox vaccine, also known as varicella immunization. Adults not suffering from chickenpox should also get the vaccine. The vaccine is not a guarantee that you won’t get chickenpox, but it can help build your immunity to be stronger to fight against the infection.
Adults age 60 or more should get the shingles vaccine called Zostavax to help prevent shingles. The vaccine is given once. Studies reveal that people who received Zostavax decreased their risk of developing shingles by fifty percent. The shingles vaccine should not be used in people with active shingles. Shingles usually take seven to ten days, although blisters may take several weeks to disappear completely. Always keep in mind that the virus responsible for shingles is contagious. Wash your hands after touching the rash, and take other precautions to avoid spreading it. Be cautious around those who are pregnant as the virus can be dangerous to pregnant women who have never had chickenpox.
Delores Powell: My passion is all about Health and Wellness, Wealth, and to help others succeed as well. Believe in yourself and you will achieve.