Shingles has risen in popularity over the past few years, with more cases being reported. It is a skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus (VRZ), which is the same virus responsible for the chickenpox. What many people do not know is that after an individual recovers from the chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body and can reappear years down the line. Usually beginning as a rash, the shingles virus then begins to blister and scab, with symptoms such as fever, headache, stomach pain, and chills lasting approximately two to four weeks. In rare cases, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing loss, blindness, encephalitis, and even death. In this article we will review six options for the treatment for shingles.
- Soothing Baths
Cleaning blisters that resulted from the shingles outbreak can significantly reduce the risk of spreading the infection. This can be accomplished through running a cold bath, which will help ease the pain, calm itching, and soothe skin. Additionally, adding colloidal oatmeal and cornstarch can aide in healing. While it may be tempting to run a warm bath in hopes of killing the virus, this can worsen blisters as it will increase blood flow. Last but not least, prevent the spread of the virus through washing any towels used after each bath.
- Dietary Changes
A strong immune system is one of the best remedies for shingles, so taking steps to boost your immunity through eating specific foods is a good start. Consume foods high in vitamin A, B-12, C, E, and lysine such as leafy greens, red meat, chicken, yellow fruits, dairy, beans, and tomatoes to name a few. It is important to avoid high sugar foods, refined carbs, meals that have a lot of saturated fat, and those high in arginine, which has the potential to cause the virus to multiply.
- Emuaid Ointment
This homeopathic topical ointment has a wealth of natural ingredients that can both soothe irritation and calm inflammation. Individuals who use this ointment report relief of itching, pain, and discomfort as well as a decrease in scars that result from the shingles rash. Emuaid comes in both regular strength and maximum strength depending on the severity of symptoms.
This prescription medication is used to treat certain viral infections, including the shingles virus. It works by preventing the virus from multiplying and is best taken as soon as the rash appears, typically within a three day window. Individuals should be careful when taking this medication as it has the potential to cause tiredness and malaise.
Another prescription medication that can reduce both the severity and duration of a shingles outbreak it Valtrex. The sooner an individual begins treatment with this medication, the better it will work on reducing symptoms as well as prevent the development of postherpetic neuralgia, which is damage to nerve fibers.
- Cool Compress
In addition to taking prescription medications and utilizing homeopathic remedies, Healthline recommends cool compress to help relieve the pain and itching associated with shingles. Simply soak a towel in cool water and apply to the blisters several times throughout the day. This is a better option than ice packs, which can cause both sensitivity and worsen pain.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately one in three individuals in the United States will be faced with this virus at some point in their lives. Anyone who had chickenpox still has the virus lying dormant in their body, which can reactivate later. While there is no cure for shingles, the above treatment methods can significantly reduce the outbreak and calm symptoms.