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Shingles Treatment at Home

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 15, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

What Is Shingles?

Varicella-zoster virus, also known as shingles, is a painful rash caused by a virus. The virus that causes shingles is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus continues to lay dormant inside the body, causing no symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime.

Shingles is a virus characterized by vesicular lesions in different development stages typically located only one side of the face, trunk, or extremities. The name shingles comes from the Latin word “cingulum,” which means a belt or girdle. This is because the shingle’s rash usually appears in a band or belt-like pattern.

Shingles can affect people of all ages, but is most common in adults over 50 years of age, although it is more common in people with weakened immune systems.

Continue reading to find out potential home remedies for singles, as well as other shingles treatment options.

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How To Treat Shingles At Home

You can help treat shingles at home with natural treatments. Shingles cause a rash that forms blisters that cause pain. A crust will develop over the blisters, and in 2 to 6 weeks, the blisters will heal. Discomfort may last 2 to 6 weeks while the rash is healing. During this time, you may be searching to find relief, which may include home treatment options. 

Some skincare and itch relief techniques are available for shingles at home. Skincare treatment includes pain medicine and calamine lotion. Itch relief options include applying cool compresses or taking starch or colloidal oatmeal baths. 

Oatmeal Bath For Shingles

Medical professionals approve the use of soothing baths to help treat shingles at home. Soothing baths such as starch baths are used. Oatmeal baths can relieve itching and discomfort while the rash is healing.

To take an oatmeal bath, prepare a bath filled with lukewarm water and mix in ground oatmeal. Soak in the tub for 5 to 10 minutes, then dry yourself completely using a pat-dry method. This may help relieve itching and irritation.

What Is The Fastest Home Remedy For Shingles?

There are a number of home remedies for shingles, and the most effective are methods that help reduce pain and itching. You can do this with certain lotions, creams, and medicated baths. After these treatments are applied, it is vital to keep the rash clean and dry. 

How Do You Calm Down Shingles?

A quick way to relieve pain from shingles is to use cool compresses and calamine lotion. To relieve itching and discomfort, you can use a cool, wet compress on the affected area. Calamine lotion is considered a soothing lotion and can be used to calm down shingles as well. 

Moisturizers and other fragrant lotions are not advised as they may irritate the skin further, causing more pain and discomfort.

Can I Use Lidocaine Cream On Shingles Rash?

You can use lidocaine cream on your shingles rash to reduce pain. You may also take pain medication orally to help alleviate pain as well. 

Another cream used to treat pain due to shingles is capsaicin cream. Capsaicin is a substance derived from chili peppers. However, the cream’s side effects may include burning, stinging, and skin redness, which makes it intolerable for about 1/3 of people.

What Is The Best Food To Eat When You Have Shingles?

The best foods to eat when you have shingles are ones that promote healing and decrease inflammation. The shingles diet focuses on the exclusion of certain types of food that may play a role in making shingles symptoms worse. Foods to avoid while treating shingles include;

  • Protein rich foods
  • Fish
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Soy
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Dairy products
  • L-arginine supplements

These foods contain the amino acid arginine, which may potentially help the shingles virus replicate.

You should also avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrates and try to keep a healthy and balanced diet to boost your immune system, which in turn gives you anadvantage while fighting the shingles virus. These foods to avoid include;

  • Processed Foods
  • Candy
  • Pastries
  • Sodas
  • Pasta
  • Sugary Cereal
  • White Potatoes

It would help if you also avoided alcohol when treating shingles, as excessive alcohol lowers your immune system, making it harder to recover.

Instead, eat foods that boost your immune system so that you can ward off a shingles attack and recover more quickly. The shingle diet should include foods high in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Shingles?

Currently, there is no evidence that apple cider vinegar kills the virus on your skin, nor that it helps relieve pain when applied topically. However, many people try the apple-cider vinegar method to help relieve pain from shingles. Some options include applying apple cider vinegar directly onto the shingles rash or by combining a small amount in your bathwater.

How Do You Know Shingles Are Healing?

You know that shingles are healing when the rash begins to crust over. Shingles have a natural cycle. The cycle starts as tingling pain, followed by a burning feeling and a red rash, then blistering, and finally, the blisters will crust over. Blisters usually scab over in 7 to 10 days and disappear completely in 2 to 6 weeks. As you heal, blisters become smaller and less painful. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

What Do Doctors Prescribe For Shingles Pain?

Because shingles attack the nerve cells in your body, it can be excruciating. It is important to note that vaccines are available for both infections. The treatment of shingles is usually a combination of antiviral and pain-relieving medications. Some pain medications prescribed for shingles pain by doctors include topical anesthetics, oral pain medications, and steroid injections. 

Topical anesthetic gels are rubbed onto your skin and stick to the rash. These gels release a numbing drug called lidocaine over 12 hours, which numbs your skin to the most painful and itchy areas.

Oral medications are treated for severe pain not relieved by over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen. A physician may prescribe short-term opiates if other treatments do not provide enough pain relief. Tricyclic antidepressants are also prescribed to treat shingle pain, but the dose is much lower than the doses used to treat depression.

Steroid injections are injections administered directly into the space around the spinal cord that may be used to treat severe shingle pain. These injections cannot be used to treat facial pain, only trunk and limb pain.

If you are experiencing shingles and shingles pain, book an appointment with a doctor at PlushCare today. During your online appointment, your board-certified physician can help you determine a treatment plan for shingles, as well as if your diagnosis requires a prescription.


Read More About Shingles


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shingles (herpes zoster). Accessed on February 20, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/index.html

Mayo Clinic. L-arginine. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-l-arginine/art-20364681

Mayo Clinic. Shingles. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shingles/symptoms-causes/syc-20353054

US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute on Aging. Shingles. Accessed on February 20, 2021 at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/shingles

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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