how to treat shingles

How to Treat Shingles

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According to researchers, shingles in the United States affect 1 in 3 people and there are about 1 million new cases each year. The virus that causes shingles is called varicella zoster, which is the same virus that can cause chickenpox. Therefore, those who had chickenpox are more likely to develop shingles later in life. Shingles is more common in older adults who tend to have weakened immune systems. About 50% of all cases of shingles occur in adults 60 years of age or older.

Some signs to watch for are burning, tingling, itching, or stinging, followed by a development of a rash. Other symptoms may include a headache, fever/chills, malaise, nausea, body aches, and swollen lymph glands. Shingles typically begins as clusters of small red rashes and develops into small blisters. This can cause severe pain if you have weak skin. Shingles can cause also lead to complications. According to medicinenet.com, the most common complication is medically known as postherpetic neuralgia, which is constant pain and discomfort in the area affected by shingles. This pain can last for months or even several years after the rash has cleared up. Another thing to be careful about is the contagious period for shingles. They can be transmitted from person to person by direct contact with the fluid from the active blistering rash. Another way it can be spread from person to person is by coughing or sneezing. Once the rash is dry, it is not considered contagious anymore. [1]

There are many medications and natural remedies to try if your aging loved one has developed shingles. These are six natural remedies recommend by healthline.com.

  1. Healing baths: Daily cleansing of the blisters reduces the risk of spreading the infection
  2. Wet, cool compress: Soothe your rash and blisters with a cool wash cloth
  3. Baking soda and corn starch paste: A mixture of cornstarch or baking soda and water can relieve the itching
  4. Soothing lotions and creams: Apply creams that include capsaicin about 3 or 4 times per day. It can help with the scarring from the scratching.
  5. Dietary remedies: Some foods that prove healing are chicken, eggs, beans, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruit, red meat, dairy, whole grains and spinach.
  6. Homeopathic remedies: Some holistic medications that are recommended are cantharis, rhus toxicodendron, and graphite’s. [2]

Your doctor can advise you about natural remedies, over the counter medications and may even prescribe medications to address shingles. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and some topical steroids can be used for pain control and itching. Dr. Weil suggests acupuncture and hypnosis to help relieve the pain as well. There is also a new medication that may help prevent shingles. This new vaccine, Zostavax, was approved by the FDA for use in people of 60 years of age and older. So far, the results show that it works about 50% of the time. But, those who have gotten the vaccine and still develop shingles may experience less severe cases than those who are not vaccinated.

Shingles can typically last between two and six weeks. Although most people will experience only one episode of shingles, recurrence can occur at times. Currently, there is no certain cure for shingles, and you have to let the virus take its course. Increasing your understanding, using some of the natural remedies and medications mentioned above, can help minimize the pain and discomfort from shingles. [3]