Shingles Pain Relief

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a skin rash that often causes pain around the infected area. It is typically characterized by unpleasant red blotches on the skin, somewhat similar to chicken pox but usually only limited to one specific area of the body. Other symptoms of shingles may include fever, headache, malaise (general discomfort), nausea, muscle pain and more. Click here for a full list of possible symptoms.

It is a common affliction, with around 1 million cases each year in the US. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 US citizens will develop shingles at some point in their life, according to the CDC. It is only possible to develop shingles if someone has previously developed chicken pox. The same virus which causes chicken pox will lie dormant in the body until reactivated. Shingles usually only occurs once and usually lasts for 2-4 weeks, although it is possible to develop it multiple times.

In rare cases, shingles can lead to more serious complications including pneumonia and brain inflammation, which can be deadly. This usually occurs in people who have impaired immune systems.

Relief from shingles

Typically, doctors will administer antiviral medicines to treat shingles. They are not immediately effective, and many patients will want to relieve the discomfort as soon as possible.

  • Bathing – A cool bath or shower should cleanse the blisters formed by shingles. This will help reduce skin irritation as well as prevent the rash from spreading. In addition, try adding a couple of cups of colloidal oatmeal—this has properties which soothes the skin—to a cool bath and bathe in it. Clean the towel after use to prevent spreading the virus to others.
  • Wet towels – Apply a cold, damp towel to the affected skin. The coolness of the towel will reduce the pain, but don’t use ice as this may increase skin sensitivity.
  • Topical pain medications – Topical medications are applied directly to the skin in order to provide relief. They come in many forms, but one typically used to treat shingles is Lidocaine. Lidocaine is a local anaesthetic, meaning it works by numbing the area to which it is applied, reducing pain. Click here to view possible side effects, including allergic reaction, seizure and swelling. Qutenza is a patch which can be applied to skin affected by shingles to reduce pain. It contains capsaicin – an active ingredient in chili peppers. Click here to view side effects and more. Finally, calamine lotion can provide relief from mild itchiness. Itching, redness and irritation may be possible side effects, and it is important to check with your doctor before use, especially if you have any allergies. Click here for more.

For more tips, please click here. These tips will not cure shingles, but they should provide temporary relief. It is important to visit a healthcare provider right away to get proper relief from shingles with antiviral medication.

Featured image: Depositphotos / tashatuvango

Posted on May 5, 2023