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How to treat shingles

how to treat shinglesDid you wake up in the morning seeing rashes on an area of your body? If yes, you must pay attention to it and finding out how to treat shingles must be done immediately because this skin disease might cause you pain and worse, blindness if left untreated. Luckily, you have stumbled on this site and now, you can just browse the pages to know all about this disease and how to prevent it from occurring.

What is Shingles?

The varicella-zoster virus belongs to the herpes family that causes chickenpox and shingles. Inevitably, when a person contracts the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), he or she will develop chickenpox. However, even after the body fights off the chickenpox infection, the VZV virus still remains in the nerve roots in an attenuated or dormant state. In some cases, usually in people over 50, this virus becomes active again and travels along the path of the nerve to the surface of the skin that will lead in its comeback, developing a disease known as shingles. Yes, it’s like having a payback time.

Shingles can be identified by the presence of rashes and blisters on the skin, accompanied by intense itching and pain. These blisters contain infectious fluid and an individual can transmit the infection from the time the first blister appears till the time all blisters have dried, formed crusts, flaked away and cleared.

What can the prescribed medicines do to my body?

 There is no cure for this and doctors only prescribe medicines to treat its symptoms. Usually, the medications’ aims are the following:

  • Decrease the pain
  • Shorten the length of the shingles episode
  • Lessen itching
  • Help blisters heal quickly as possible

There are, however, antiviral treatments like Zovirax, Famvir and Valtrex, which can prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading to other parts of the body. These can slow down the progression of the disease and reduce its severity by allowing the body’s immune system to cope with it better. Antiviral treatments should be started within the first three days from the day the rashes first occurred.

Antihistamines, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medicines can help control itching and lessen skin inflammation.

What if traditional analgesics are not effective? What painkillers will I take?

To manage the pain, you should try traditional analgesics first. If these are found to be insufficient and you are still experiencing further pain, the physician can prescribe stronger painkillers like prescription narcotics (example, Vicodin) or “pain patches”.

Pain patches” are anaesthetic patches that can be applied to the skin. These can release a local anaesthetic into the skin for a few hours to make the area numb and impervious to pain. Doctors may also tell you to use creams or ointments that contain benzocaine or other anaesthetizing medicines.

Since most of the pain associated with shingles is nerve-related, some physicians recommend the use of antidepressants and anticonvulsants for managing your pain. Both of these drug categories inhibit nerve activity and these medicines can drastically decrease pain in shingles patients. Antidepressants can also reduce stress, anxiety levels and can help patients relax. You might experience less itching as well.

How do I keep my skin moisturized and at the same time make my blisters dry?

Moisturizing creams, calamine and other unscented lotions can be applied to keep the skin hydrated and soothe the itch. Petroleum jelly or honey can also be used for this purpose. (If you are using honey, watch out for ants, they may find you very sweet and they will bite you for that). Scented moisturizers can further aggravate irritation and should be avoided.

Domeboro solution, which is basically aluminium acetate solution, or a paste of cornstarch can be applied to dry blisters faster. Pepper extract or capsaicin creams and tinctures are available at pharmacies and are widely used to control pain in shingles patients. Capsaicin exhausts and transmits chemicals that can make the nerves insensitive to pain for some time.

Heat treatment and ice pack application is also effective in temporarily reducing your pain. Keeping the affected skin immersed in cool water for some time can help you feel comfortable making yourself reduce the urge to scratch your skin. Ready-made oatmeal bath mixes are available at drugstores and these can be emptied into a bathtub to soak your affected skin. Breathe, relax, soothe and calm yourself.

What vitamins do I need most?

Some patients find vitamin supplements to be helpful in controlling shingles. Vitamin E, taken orally or applied directly onto the affected skin, is good for healing skin problems and protecting the nerves from damage. The B-complex group of vitamins is commonly used to strengthen the nervous system and to reduce nerve pain. Vitamins A and D fortify the body’s immunity and these can increase the production of killer T-cells and macrophages, which can counter infection. Vitamin C is good for skin regeneration and virus multiplication prevention.

Natural remedies like turmeric paste and garlic juice have antiseptic properties and could speed up healing. Eating a spoonful of flaxseed powder twice a day increases the natural immunity of the body and has been found to be helpful. Plant extracts, like Licorice, soothes the inflammation and can help calm the rashes. Lemon balm counters viruses of the herpes family in particular and has been found to be reasonably successful in aiding the healing of cold sores or rashes.

Can I get a vaccination?

Many children are given the chickenpox vaccine, but the protective effect of this vaccine wears off as they approach adulthood. A vaccine for shingles called “Zostavax” is now approved for use in adults over the age of sixty. Some people who have been vaccinated for chickenpox or shingles can still get the disease, but they just usually develop a comparatively milder or shorter outbreak. Zostavax is said to have a prevention rate of about 50%.

According to this post’s introduction, Shingles can cause blindness, but how dangerous can it be?

In some cases, it may spread to the whole head, causing permanent or partial facial paralysis, hearing problems, pain in ear (or ears) and damage to the taste buds. In others, shingles could damage the eye, causing loss of vision. It may even affect and inflame the brain tissue that may lead to serious consequences or even death.

The most common complication arising from shingles is a problem called postherpetic neuralgia. As its name signifies, it is a persistent nerve pain that continues and stays for a long time, even after the blisters or rashes have vanished. This problem is due to the lasting damage to the nerve fibers caused by shingles and the pain may still continue for up to several years. Many of the medicines that are used to control pain can still be continued in patients who have developed postherpetic neuralgia.

If you ever get Shingles, try to search information first and then consult with your physician. Everyone has different body conditions so if you are not satisfied with your physician’s advice or if you are experiencing severe side effects, get a second or up to the third opinion so you will really know how to treat shingles. Think positive and you will surely recover faster and become happier.

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Natural treatment of shingles

natural shingles treatment

Did you ever feel headache, nausea or any side effects using drugs or pills? If yes, natural treatment of shingles is for you. Aside from taking organic and healthier alternatives, fewer side effects will be experienced. Having second thoughts about using this? Well, just take a look at the information provided below.

Okay, Please tell me what is Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox or varicella zoster virus in adults. It usually occurs in people over the age of 60 who have a weak immune system, are stressed or ill. The most common symptom of shingles is the itchy, painful fluid-filled blisters that are present on the skin, usually on one side of the body. These blisters or sores will eventually dry out, crust over and heal on their own within 3 to 5 weeks.

While there is no known cure to treat this, certain natural remedies can be used to reduce the painful, burning sensation, duration and severity of the disease. Natural treatments are better to be used in combination with anti-viral medicines prescribed by a physician.

I need to soothe my rashes, how will I make these less itchy?

Soak the affected area with blisters in cool water or use a cool and wet towel as a compress to ease discomfort. Dip the affected part in hot water for around 30 seconds, so for you to have a temporary relief from itching.  Colloidal oatmeal or starch powder added to lukewarm baths can relieve the irritation and help you relax. Zinc and Vitamin E or aloe vera balms can also be applied to the sores to bring temporary relief. These powders and salves are available by over the counter at pharmacies.

How do I manage the pain?

Several natural or homemade treatments can be used topically to lessen pain and itching. Capsaicin is a chemical extracted from peppers, which when applied on the skin, causes nerve cells to release all their pain-sensing “substance P” neurotransmitters at once. Nerves then become incapable of transmitting pain signals to the brain for a while and because of this, capsaicin acts now as a natural pain reliever. Capsaicin is available by over the counter at drug stores in the form of creams and powders for topical treatment.

Can I use ice to manage pain and inflammation?

Yes. During the first few days, while the blisters are fresh, applying an ice pack for a few minutes several times a day can help you manage the pain and inflammation. Turmeric paste, honey, peppermint and geranium oil have been proven to reduce pain, possess antiseptic properties and are widely used for natural Ayurvedic treatment of shingles. Just be careful of using turmeric because it can stain your clothes so make sure you will just wear your house clothes. The Apple cider vinegar compress can also help you to control pain and itching.

I am done in soothing the blisters and managing the pain, how do I naturally heal shingles?

Apply cornstarch or baking soda so blisters will dry faster and will hasten the healing. These can be applied a few times a day, left on for a quarter of an hour and then properly wash off. Garlic juice mixed with olive oil can be applied to ease itching and speed up healing.

How will I have a good or balanced diet?

Diet can also affect the healing process. The essential amino acids, L-Lysine, interrupts viral replication while L-Arginine promotes the increase of the viruses. Because of these, patients are advised to maintain a higher L-Lysine to L-Arginine ratio. Lysine-rich foods include protein from meat, dairy and vegetables. Foods like sugar, chocolate, berries, nuts and tomatoes that are rich in Arginine should be avoided. Studies have proven that consumption of 1000mg of Lysine thrice a day decreases the duration and intensity of shingles. Natural dietary supplements like vitamin A, B complex, C, D and E are beneficial for shingles treatment. Vitamin A, C and D can strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C inhibits viral replication, Vitamin E aids in the healing of blistered skin and will prevent nerve damage and Vitamin B12 can be taken to decrease nerve pain that is commonly associated with shingles. Another supplement that is known to heighten immunity and speed up the healing process is flax seed or acidophilus bacteria powder which can also be bought at drugstores or pharmacies.

Proteolytic enzymes are protein-digesting enzymes that occur naturally in the human body and additional supplements can be obtained from papayas (papain), pineapples (bromelain) and animal sources (pepsin, trypsin, etc.). These enzymes digest the protein casing of the herpes zoster virus, slowing down its replication, decreasing pain, improving the condition of the skin and reducing the side effects of the anti-viral medicines. Naturally derived proteolytic enzyme supplements are available at most drugstores and can be taken orally.

Are there herbs and other alternative medicines?

Research is also underway to find herbal remedies like licorice root, passionflower and lemon balm. These have been found to heighten immunity, soothe inflammation and reduce anxiety. Lemon balm specifically attacks herpes viruses and can be applied topically to reduce blistering and heal the affected skin.

Some may prefer to be treated by alternative medicine such as having acupuncture and hypnosis to lessen the pain successfully.

How do I prevent it from making it worse?

Pat the skin dry after its exposure to water to prevent bacterial infection. The skin should be kept clean by washing this with a mild soap several times a day. Once the blisters crust over, soaking these blisters in tap water can help clean away crusts, decrease oozing and soothe itching and pain. The rashes should not be covered with bandages, plasters or tight clothes. Not only do this slowdown the healing process, but this can also cause bacteria to proliferate and infect the area.

Since shingles is communicable, all towels or clothes coming in contact with the affected skin should be washed in hot water before reusing or disposing it off. If you do not wash the towels and clothes properly, the virus can easily infect others due to skin contact and inhalation of airborne disease.

How long does it heal?

This viral disease will take its own sweet time to clear up despite all medications and natural treatments so it will be best if you will use your three weeks’ time to catch up on your rest and relaxation which can help to speed up the healing process.

While these natural treatments can help you cope with the shingles pain, it is strongly advised that patients should visit a doctor within 24 to 72 hours from the first appearance of the rashes so proper diagnosis and antiviral treatment prescription can be given and chances of complications and long-term effects are also reduced as well.

You don’t have to fret about side effects and pills. You can just use natural shingles treatment and become less worried about taking other important medications. You can now live and heal as naturally as possible but remember if the disease gets worse, seek a doctor’s help and take both natural and drug treatments so you can escape as soon as possible from the agony of having shingles.

Shingles in babies

Baby with shingles rashes

Michael Haire from stockvault.net

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles. A viral infection of the nerves just below the skin is the main cause and it is also called zoster or herpes zoster. Though shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it usually appears as a strip of irritated skin or blisters on one side of the back or chest. It can also occur on the face and near the eyes.

First, how Shingles is related to Chicken pox?

Mild symptoms of shingles are seen in many cases, but the more severe ones can be very painful. Generally, older people suffer from severe cases; kids and teens usually have mild cases. Shingles is highly contagious since it is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It is an after-effect of chicken pox. The virus stays in a person’s nervous system after he/she has had chicken pox. The chickenpox virus or the varicella-zoster virus can stay there dormant in the nerve roots near the spinal cord and in many people it will never be heard from again. In some cases it flares up and causes shingles. The probable explanation of the virus flaring up after months or years of inactivity is our immune system becoming vulnerable to infections with advancing age.

The shingles virus is shed from the rash. Unlike chicken pox, the shingles virus is not transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Thus, if an infected person’s rash is properly covered, another person is not likely to catch the virus from the infected person. A person with active shingles can transmit the varicella-zoster virus to another person who has never had chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine. In such cases, the newly infected person might develop chicken pox but would not develop shingles.

How babies get the varicella-zoster virus?

The varicella-zoster virus is caught by a newborn baby. A baby is likely to be born with chickenpox if the baby’s mother catches chickenpox within a month before giving birth. In later years, that baby can then develop shingles. Whether or not a pregnant woman has contracted chickenpox in the past can be determined through a blood test. Since pregnancy alters the immunological strength of the expectant mother, chickenpox is quite dangerous in pregnancy. If a woman has chickenpox within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, there is a moderate chance of the new born baby developing foetal varicella syndrome or FVS. Babies whose mothers are exposed to the varicella-zoster virus during week 13 up to week 20 of pregnancy experience a very high risk of developing innate varicella syndrome. Beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, if a woman catches chickenpox, then the risk of the baby developing varicella syndrome is very low. The foetal varicella syndrome is characterised by low birth weight, skin tissue injury, underdeveloped limbs, abnormally small sized heads, eye problems including eye inflammation, cataracts and cortical atrophy which is a neurological disease. A person infected with shingles should avoid contact with pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine until the infected person’s blisters scab over. An infected person must also avoid contact with premature or low birth weight infants since they are more susceptible in acquiring the varicella-zoster virus due to their weak immune systems. If a new born healthy baby is diagnosed with chickenpox then it is considered very good since it is highly likely that the baby has received antibodies from its mother through the placenta. Thus, there is lesser chance of serious side effects in such a baby. In fact, the varicella-zoster virus cannot be transmitted to babies through their mothers’ breast milk.

What are the early signs of Shingles in babies?

Fever, diarrhoea and swollen lymph nodes are early signs of shingles in babies. The main sign of shingles is a red rash and after a few days the painful rashes turn into fluid-filled blisters. As the virus travels down a particular nerve, the blisters usually run in a distinct line. New lumps are seen in the first 2-3 days. The virus spreads when another child, who has never been infected or immunized, comes in contact with the blisters. When the blisters scab over, the infected baby is no longer contagious.

If a baby has not had chickenpox before, can the baby acquire the virus?

A baby won’t have the shingles virus in its system if it has not had chickenpox. Babies suffering from shingles often experience a burning or piercing pain. Because of this, it may be sensitive to touch. It is usually recommended by doctors to hold the baby in a way that would not irritate the rashes. Though there is no cure for shingles, only the symptoms could be treated through antiviral drugs. Applying creams or lotions to the rash should be avoided.

Medicine or treatment for babies

A dose of varicella-zoster immune globulin, or VZIG, carrying antibodies to the chickenpox virus is given to babies 5 days before they were born or 2 days after their mothers show signs of shingles. Babies whose mothers are not immune to the varicella including premature infants are recommended varicella-zoster immune globulin by paediatricians. According to the recommendation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US Government agency, every child must receive two doses of the varicella vaccine. First dose should be received at age 12 to 15 months and the second recommended dose at 4 to 6 years.

Natural remedies for shingles

natural remedies for shinglesNatural remedies for shingles are still preferred by many. Varicella-Zoster virus, which is responsible for Chicken Pox as well, is causing shingles. Symptoms of shingles are emerging in adulthood after a significantly latent period. Individuals who are attacked by shingles usually get fever, stomach ache, rashes with itch, blisters, chills and pain. Patients can automatically recover from Shingles within weeks but during the skin disease starting and finishing stage, patients will experience extensive discomfort and desolation. You could be prescribed to have drugs like Zovirax, Prednisone, and Valtrex by your physician in order to make the skin disease heal faster but since taking antiviral drugs and painkillers have side effects, you may opt to look for ways to recover naturally if you will follow the instructions below.

Simple Processes To Take

  • Drink as much as 3 to 4 cups of green tea per day because antiviral properties of the green tea can help you start getting rid of the symptoms.
  • Homeopathic components such as Arsenicum album can treat the burning sensation associated with shingles. It is recommended to use a dosage of 30c for 3 days, two times daily. Later reduce the strength to 12c to see the further improvement. If you can see the improvement, stop using this. In case of its failure to make the patient improve his or her condition, try Rhus Toxicodendron, Apis Mellifica, or Clematis Erecta. A homeopathic expert can better assist you with this and advise you which option you should use.
  • Alfalfa, Cayenne, Astragalus root, Dandelion, red clover, and other herbs promote healing of shingles. Aside from healing, you can use these herbs to relieve itch and pain on the rashes but keep in mind that these may have possible side effects if were used with other drugs. So, check for this before you decide to use these herbs.
  • Some useful oils work better for the natural remedy of shingles. These can bring relief and can heal shingles faster. Use Lemon, Bergamot, and Eucalyptus oils to derive desired results. Put a few drops of these oil essences diluted with Olive oil and massage this on your painful rashes or blisters.
  • Soothe blisters by dabbing a cotton on hydrogen peroxide and rub it on the affected area. Doing this will prevent blister infections. Consider dabbing a cotton on an organic apple cider vinegar (Test the acidity first on your skin. Start with a teaspoon amount) diluted in water and then, apply this on the painful shingles area.

Shingles will surely make you look ugly which results in lower self-esteem to the point that you don’t want to go out of your house. Also, it is a threatening disease to the public. Although people cannot get shingles just by talking, coughing and sneezing with you but you might still infect them if your skin with rashes touches them. So, take care of separating yourself from other people until you are completely free from this skin disease.

Cool Water Application

Low temperature undoubtedly helps patients get rid of pain associated with shingles. Using cool water can be a good treatment for patients who want to have pain and itch relief. It is strongly recommended for patients to take cool baths or showers on regular intervals. Using natural kitchen ingredients like baking soda or oatmeal will definitely help patients relieve itching. Application of wet compress as an alternative for shower or bath can also help. Vitamin-E oil and Aloe Vera are nutritious for the skin; applying a small amount of these on a warm compress will also help.

Changing Diet

In accordance with the guidelines of health authorities, healthy diet can sooth the condition of blisters to a lot of degree. Taking diet such as eating non-processed sugar, vegetables and fruits (canned or natural) can prevent infection further and better than other foods. Citrus Fruits, Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Brussels sprouts, Tomatoes, and Guava are perfect examples of Vitamin-C enriched foods. Hazelnuts, Almonds, Papayas, Avocados, leafy greens such as Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, etc are examples of Vitamin-E enriched foods. All of those, helps individuals to get comfort from the disgusting blisters caused by shingles. As long as those are taken on a regular basis, the severity of shingles will become less. Taking proper diet is the best way to prevent and heal shingles. These foods can also help patients keep their body fit and healthy.

Taking Supplements

It will be okay if patients will take supplements along with healthy diets according to the Health-Guidance. An individual can take 1,000 mg per day of Vitamin-C which can easily dissolve in water. Vitamin-E supplements can be received before meals in accordance with the supplement’s instructions. These supplements can help the patient recover from pain related to shingles. Also, Vitamin B-12 can be taken by injections or vaccines in order to relieve the pain. Consult with a physician first so you will know if you can take these supplements and vaccines.

Find a Physician

Though you are taking natural remedies, you should consult with your physician about what you are going to do with the natural treatment. Taking casual approach to treat shingles may cause severe damage to your health. Natural remedy does not mean that it is 100% safe. Also, if the natural remedy fails to help you recover completely, you should not waste your time and you should contact a physician as early as possible. The physician or doctor will decide if you need special treatment or you can still continue with the natural treatment. Your physician can prescribe antiviral drugs which can accelerate the process of healing and lessen complications. Anticonvulsant drugs could be prescribed as well. Topical numbing agents, gabapentin, antidepressants, etc can be included within the prescription. Your physician will also suggest you if you should continue natural treatment along with these drugs.

The main objective of the treatment is to heal from shingles. You can opt for any kind of sophisticated treatments as long as you can benefit from these. However, before starting with natural remedies for shingles, it is recommended to consult with your trusted physician.