How is shingles treated
There is currently no cure for shingles, but it is very treatable until you recover from the condition. Depending on the severity of the condition, it is either treated at home or in hospital if necessary. It’s usually recommended to start treatment if you have shingles as quickly as possible to avoid any complications. Once you’ve recovered from shingles, you can get it again, but this is extremely unlikely.
How you treat shingles depends on the case, and while there is no cure for the disease, it usually clears up within 2-5 weeks with appropriate care.
Shingles is usually treated with a combination of self care and prescription antiviral medication, but you may also be prescribed pain killers if you need them.
After developing a shingles rash, you will be advised on how to treat it at home. This will include:
- Keeping the rash clean and dry: This reduces the risk of the rash becoming infected with more bacteria
- Wearing loose fitting clothing: This can help you feel much more comfortable with the rash
- Avoiding plasters and topical antibiotics: using these can slow the healing progress
- Covering the blisters to avoid spreading the infection: It’s important to cover your blisters if in public to protect other people from the disease.
- You may also want to apply Calamine lotion as it has a soothing, cooling effect on the skin, which can help stop the itching.
Some people may be prescribed a course of antiviral antibiotics, which will usually last between 7 and 10 days. The most common antiviral medications used to treat shingles are:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
While these antivirals aren’t a cure for shingles, they can help stop the virus from multiplying, which can:
- Reduce how severe your case of shingles is
- Shorten how long shingles lasts
- Lower the likelihood of getting complications
Antiviral medications get working straight away and are best started within 72 hours of developing a shingles rash, so you should make sure you speak to a doctor for treatment as soon as possible.
Recent studies on the effectiveness of antiviral medications, including Valacyclovir, showed that participants reported less pain from shingles after taking medication. However, researchers did not find any differences among the medications compared in terms of fewer lesions, crusting over, or adverse events.
There’s limited evidence that any home remedies are effective at treating shingles however some people have tried ways to treat shingles naturally, such as:
A shingles diet consists of foods high in vitamins A, B-12, C, and E, and the amino acid lysine. These include:
- orange and yellow fruits
- leafy green vegetables
- red meat
- wild-caught fish
Foods to avoid include:
- food and juices with high amounts of sugar
- arginine-rich foods (including chocolate, gelatin, and nuts)
- refined carbohydrates
- foods high in saturated Fat
Soothing lotions and creams
While lotions and creams won’t speed up the healing process, they can be used to help itching, reduce scarring, and reduce pain.
Baking soda and cornstarch paste
Some people use a paste made from baking soda or cornstarch, which is applied to the rash for 10-15 minutes several times a day to reduce itching and pain.
Some people feel that supplements and herbal medicines help your body fight the virus as well as treat insomnia and anxiety, which are often caused by the virus. These include:
- St.John’s Wort
- oregano oil
- lemon balm
- essential fatty acids
Before trying a herbal or natural remedy, you should always speak to your doctor first to make sure it’s safe and suitable as part of your treatment plan.