5 Common Treatments of Shingles

May 7th 2016

With proper treatment and symptom management, shingles infections typically resolve within two to four weeks. Those who seek medical attention at the onset of symptoms will enjoy an accelerated healing process. Medications and topical remedies provide much-needed relief from pain and discomfort as well.

Antiviral Oral Medications

Individuals with shingles are often prescribed antiviral oral medications such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir and Famciclovir. These medications work to speed the healing process and shorten the duration of the virus. Antiviral medications can also help to minimize the risk of complications.

Topical Numbing Medications and Nerve Blocks

Shingles rashes can cause significant pain and itching, especially when the lesions are in the blistering stages. Topical numbing medications containing lidocaine help to minimize pain by numbing the skin. Lidocaine may also be administered via patch applications. In certain cases, topical medications that block nerve activity may also be prescribed to reduce pain.

Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is an effective shingles treatment that helps to relieve itching. It also helps to soothe the skin and reduce pain. Calamine lotion is gentle enough that it can be applied directly to open lesions.

Narcotic Pain Medications

In certain cases, the pain from shingles viruses may be so intense that narcotic medications such as codeine may be prescribed. These medications tend to work better in relieving pain when taken at regular intervals, as opposed to taking the medication on an as-needed basis.

Wet Compresses and Cool Baths

Applying cool, moistened compresses to the affected areas of the skin is often recommended to shingles sufferers as a way to reduce inflammation and itching. Soaking in cool bath water treated with colloidal oatmeal can also help to minimize itching and soothe irritated skin.


Shingles is a skin rash that typically appears on one side of the body, most commonly on the face, upper chest or around one side of the waist. The virus is present in individuals who have already been exposed to the chickenpox virus, also referred to as the varicella zoster virus.

The virus lies dormant in the body and resurfaces as a result of weakened immunity. The virus cannot be spread to individuals who have had the chicken pox, but in rare instances it can spread to individuals who have not been exposed to chicken pox and those who have not received the varicella vaccine.

Symptoms of shingles typically develop in stages, starting with body aches and a general ill feeling, followed by itchy and tingling skin. Over a few days' time, the itchy areas develop blisters that ooze fluid and crust over. While there is no cure for the shingles virus, there are a variety of common treatment options that can help minimize discomfort and encourage faster healing.

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