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How do you treat Shingles?

how do you treat shinglesHaving a skin disease will be a sure-fire way to be pissed off or freak out. This post is all about “how do you treat shingles?” where you will learn how you could erase this skin problem not only on the surface but also within your inner body. So then, let’s discuss its causes and its treatment.

How come there is this disease called Shingles?

People who contract chickenpox especially the children have the herpes zoster virus that causes it to lay dormant inside their bodies. Sometimes, this latent virus gets revived in adults whose immune system are suppressed due to illness, stress or other reasons. This herpes zoster virus becomes the culprit for the disease known as shingles and it is most common in adults over the age of 60.

How will I know if I have this? What are the symptoms?

Being caused by the same virus, shingles is similar to chickenpox and it presents as fluid-filled oozing blisters that will eventually become dry, crusty and then, heal. The first symptom of this is usually a tingling or burning pain under the skin because of the nerve involvement in shingles. Next comes the itchy rashes or blisters which generally occur only on one side or an area of the body. These rashes may also occur as a band along the path of the nerve. Also, other symptoms may include fever, chills, stomach pain or digestive problems. Lymph node enlargement can also be a symptom too.

In some cases, complications may arise from this skin disease because if the affected area is not kept clean and dry, bacteria may proliferate in the area and cause infection. Do you think these are only the symptoms? Actually, there’s more!

Postherpetic neuralgia is caused by nerve damage due to shingles and is characterized by nerve pain and tingling that may persist for up to several years after the rash has cleared. Another serious complication is Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which can occur when the skin disease affects the face. Its common symptoms are facial paralysis, loss of taste, earache and partial or complete deafness. Shingles may also affect the eye area causing blindness or it can reach the brain that might cause brain inflammation leading to serious problems and even death.

How will I treat this?

As in the case of most other viral diseases, there is no cure for this and it usually clears up on its own after a period of three to five weeks. However, due to the intensity of its pain and discomfort, doctors usually prescribe their patients medicines to control symptoms, reduce pain and shorten the healing period. Patients can also opt for natural treatments to ease their discomfort.

Ideally, they should begin a course of the anti-viral drug like acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir within 72 hours from the time when the rashes appeared. Antiviral treatment usually lasts between 7 to 10 days and it reduces the severity of the pain and blisters, shortens the span of the disease and also prevents the development of complications like postherpetic neuralgia.

Doctors also prescribe pain medicines, ranging from common over-the-counter analgesics like Aspirin to stronger prescription narcotics or opioids. In more severe cases, some physicians recommend the use of topical anaesthetics like benzocaine or anaesthetic patches that can release a small dose of Lidocaine into the affected area to control the pain. Also, anaesthetic treatment can be continued if the patient suffers from postherpetic neuralgia even after the shingles clears up.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, like Benadryl, and corticosteroids are helpful in calming the inflamed and itchy rashes. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants, like gabapentin, are also commonly prescribed to patients. These can suppress the nervous system and relieve pain, making the condition more bearable and comfortable for them.

What are the natural treatments for this?

Topical lotions, like calamine, petroleum jelly and other unscented creams soothe irritation and reduce itching. You can also buy Burow’s solution or known as aluminium acetate solution at pharmacies and it helps the blisters to dry quicker and to stop oozing. Oral colloidal silver is an antiviral dietary supplement and it reduces the proliferation of viruses in the body, controlling the intensity of the disease.

Several natural treatment options are also available through oatmeal baths to soothe the rash, cornstarch to dry the blisters and capsaicin (pepper extract) to reduce pain. Vitamin supplements and lysine-rich foods that have protein and dairy products are known to increase the body’s immunity against viruses, inhibit viral replication, speed up healing and decrease nerve pain. Proteolytic enzyme supplements can prevent viral replication, decrease the severity and shorten the duration of shingles.

Herbal remedies like lemon balm, licorice and passionflower reduce anxiety and pain and these can even counter the herpes zoster virus. Aside from these, keeping the affected area clean and dry and wearing loose or airy clothes is important to prevent further bacterial infection. Applying cool compresses or soaking the blistered skin in cool water may relieve pain and help crusted blisters fall off.

If shingles spreads to your face, nose or eyes, you should visit a doctor immediately to avoid the development of serious complications.

Can I get injections or vaccinations to fight this disease?

The vaccination for chickenpox (VZV) can usually protect both children and young adults from the zoster virus but its effectiveness reduces as one ages. Recently, a new vaccine called Zostavax has been approved for use in patients over 60. It has been successful in reducing its shingles cases by about 50% amongst vaccinated adults and also in decreasing the severity of it from those who had contracted the infection.

Is this skin disease contagious?

Everyone, including you must be careful because it is contagious and care must be taken while coming in contact with an infected person. A person who has not had chickenpox will most probably contract it. However, he or she cannot get it directly from another shingles-affected individual. The time that the person will get it is when he or she has direct or indirect contact with the fluid in the blisters. Fluid in the blisters is infectious. Clothes and towels that have touched shingles-infected skin should be disinfected by washing in hot water before being used by someone else.

The ways on, how do you treat shingles will surely be helpful in reducing your discomfort while getting this healed. Even no medication can help to clear this up immediately, antiviral and natural treatments can help speed up the healing process and reduce the duration and intensity of the illness. Patients are, therefore, advised to rest and supplement themselves with a healthy diet and medicines prescribed by their doctor to soothe pain, calm the inflamed areas and have a speedy recovery as possible.

Shingles home remedies

Shingles home treatment

Luckily, here, in front of you, is the answer for the shingles home remedies. Many will consult friends, relatives or search the Internet if they feel something unusual and then, the consultant will simply say that you must see a doctor. Common sense right? Let’s face it, if money or health insurance is not a problem especially to economically-challenged countries, one will see a physician immediately to be sure about his or her condition but how about if frequently answered questions about a certain disease in books and the Internet will help the affected person to save time, cost and effort if symptoms of the disease are just mild and can simply be remedied at home.

Summary about Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus which causes chicken pox can attack again that will cause  Shingles (zoster or zona). Shingles is a skin disease caused by a viral infection resulting to a painful clustered blisters or rash. Its other name is zoster or herpes zoster. This skin disease usually happened in older adults especially from ages 50-60 but it doesn’t mean that young people would be exempted. Everyone can get shingles from having weak immune system, stress, medications, aging and cancer treatments.

Upon aging, there’s the possibility that shingles will strike. An individual can be surely attacked by this virus if his or her mother during pregnancy have shingles or chicken pox or if he or she have already acquired chicken pox during his or her childhood years. When someone has already been healed from the chicken pox, the virus still remains in the nervous system.

When does a Shingles symptom needed to be taken seriously?

Please read “SHINGLES: A DREADFUL SKIN CONDITION” in this website first before reading this post so you will know if this shingles can be treated at home or if the affected individual must be admitted to the hospital immediately.

If the affected area is on the head including face and if you are pregnant, seek medical help because:

  • Shingles in the eye can cause pain and inflammation that may lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision.
  • Shingles in the ear causes hearing problems
  • Shingles in the tongue (herpes simplex) can cause not only eating problems but can also develop tongue sores or mouth ulcers as well.

If there is a pain but without rashes or blisters, it might be shingles that can lead from months to years of nerve pain if not treated properly.

Do it yourself Shingles home care

To relieve symptoms and prevent further complications, these tips must be followed for faster healing.

  • Rest and sleep to strengthen the immune system.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to lessen irritation by staying hydrated so skin can be prevented from drying out.
  • Good hygiene (including trimming your fingernails to reduce scratching)
  • Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. A compress with aluminum acetate solution might help too.
  • While waiting to have medicines, these baking ingredients, baking soda or corn starch may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.
  • Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.
  • To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water and dressing must be applied to it.

Non-prescription painkillers

Analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles.

To reduce inflammation and complications, antiviral medicines might be prescribed such as Aciclovir (Zovirax), Valaciclovir (Valtrex) and Famciclovir (Famvir). During the healing stage, shingles will dry up forming scabs or crusts and will begin to fade within 7-10 days.

For mild shingle rashes, people who have this can manage these rashes without pain medications but majority still needs medications to manage pain. Some are content with buying over-the-counter painkillers such as:

  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Medications aiming the nerves such as gabapentin or tricyclic medications such as nortriptyline, desipramine, or amitriptyline could be used.

These over-the counter painkillers prescribed by a physician are still needed. Worse, if severe pain persists, the person must be admitted to the hospital and will have to be treated by intravenous pain medications.

Other home remedies for shingles rashes or blisters:

  • Dab the cotton with colloidal silver or hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the infected rashes or blisters.
  • The popular Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg) is a big help. Mix ½ cup of it in 2 cups of water and use a cotton to dab to the affected areas.
  • Combine or make a mixture of leek juice, raw honey and aloe vera gel. Then, apply this mixture  to the rashes.
  • Lemon balm is the only herb in the mint family that has antiviral properties against herpes.
  • Many said that using Cayenne or chili pepper is effective. It contains capsaicin which is used topically for pain relief. If using it is very messy, try the ointment form, Zostrix. It is recommended to apply this four to five times daily to the affected area.
  • While on shingles, enjoy eating by adding garlic to food every day. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties to fight diseases.
  • Licorice, known for having immune-boosting compounds, can be bought in pharmacies as licorice cream or ointment. Drinking licorice tea or applying a strong one to the rash three times a day might help.
  • Lomatium root can enhance the immune system and the recommended dosage for this is 500 mg four times a day every day.
  • The nutritional supplements to fight shingles are vitamins C, E, B12 and Zinc.
  • Vitamin C for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It boosts the immune system.
  • Vitamin E for solving persistent nerve pain caused by zoster virus which is known as postherpetic neuralgia.
  • Vitamin B12 for good nerve function and relieving pain.
  • Zinc for reducing the frequency, duration and severity of shingles rashes or blisters outbreak.

The final say

Shingles home remedies or treatment is a big help and can be a first aid in treating shingles. If rashes or pain becomes worse or if you are pregnant, stop self-medicating and seek medical help to prevent danger in life.

SHINGLES: A Dreadful Skin Condition

Shingles virus showing treatment and symptoms.

Having acne, skin rashes or anything that goes bad on skin can be really annoying and these skin diseases can make one’s self esteem become low. These skin conditions will not only make people uglier but also can affect one’s health since Shingles was caused by a viral infection. Here is a simple but very detailed guide to know this skin disease.

What is Shingles and how will a person catches it?

Shingles (also known as zoster or zona) is a skin disease caused by a viral infection which results to a painful rash. It is primarily happened in older adults especially from ages 50-60 but it does not mean that young people would be exempted. Aside from aging, weak immune system, stress, medications, cancer treatments and if their mothers have it during their late pregnancy or having a chicken pox themselves during childhood can also be causes of Shingles. The verdict for this painful, awful and alarming skin disease is the Vacirella zoster virus. This virus belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses. Herpesviruses hides in the nervous system after the occurrence of initial infection and travels down to the nerve cell fibers to cause a renewed infection.

Vocirella zoster virus is the main culprit of the popularly known viral skin disease which is the Chicken pox. When a person has healed from a chicken pox, the zoster virus remains in his or her nervous system. Upon aging, there’s a possibility that this virus will strike again and here comes the shingles.

 

Shingles Symptoms

On a single part of the body, redness and painfulness can be a red flag for shingles. You may feel itching and tingling in this area. After 1-5 days, rashes will form and these will turn into clusters of blisters filled with fluid and with crust over. It looks like a chicken pox, the difference is only that chicken pox’s rashes can be seen all over the body while shingles can be seen usually only a single part whether it’s only on face, neck, back, butt, torso, etc. New blisters may arise up to a week. People with lesions may feel spasms even at a gentle touch.

On the eye part known as optical shingles, the zoster virus can cause painful eye inflammation and cause temporary or permanent loss of vision which is very alarming.

Symptoms may include headache, fever and chills, nausea, swollen glands (lymph nodes), dizziness, fatigue, malaise and heartburn or stomach ache.

Laboratory tests can be done to detect the disease. These can detect VZV-specific IgM antibody in blood. Other tests can be conducted through collecting a lymph from a blister tested by polymerase chain reaction to observe VZV DNA or through examination with an electron microscope for virus particles.

Blood work tests are not needed necessarily, a swab of fluid from the blisters can be tested in a laboratory to detect antibodies and varicella zoster virus to confirm diagnosis.

Shingles effect: Is it contagious?

Shingles is widespread and painful. It isn’t spread through coughing or sneezing but direct contact to shingles rashes can infect others. A person with shingles must also avoid close contact with people particularly the infants, children, pregnant women and anyone who doesn’t have a chicken pox before. Also those who have weak immune system and are currently ill.

The person who has shingles can cover the affected area with dressing so it will not only be healed but also it will help to minimize the spread of the virus. As the shingles becomes drier, it will be less contagious. Once the shingles becomes scabs, the person is not anymore contagious.

How to treat and prevent Shingles?

Shingles can be treated with antiviral medicines and painkillers prescribed by doctors. If at home, non-prescription painkillers such as analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles. Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.

Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. While waiting to have medicines, corn starch or baking soda may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.

To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water.

To reduce inflammation and complications, antiviral medicines might be prescribed such as Aciclovir, Valaciclovir and Famciclovir. During the healing stage, shingles will dry up forming scabs or crusts and will begin to fade within 7-10 days.

Some may resort to vaccines to prevent the re-occurrence of this disease. All about vaccines for Shingles, considerations if is it right to get a shot and medicines to be injected will be discussed on another post.

To prevent shingles from coming back or from getting it, aside from eating healthy foods, living in a clean and non-polluted environment, one must avoid direct contact to the shingles or blisters area.  Immune system must be paid attention. Regular medical check-ups even annually will definitely help to track your health condition.

Remember, Health is Wealth.