Natural Remedies for Treating Shingles at Home
Shingles can be extremely contagious, so take care to clean your towels, clothing, bed linens and anything else that touches the rash thoroughly. If home remedies don't alleviate the pain from shingles, see a doctor, as prolonged shingles pain can cause permanent nerve damage.
A cool bath or shower can ease the itchiness of the shingles rash. Oatmeal baths are also soothing against shingles-covered skin. Cool compresses laid against the rash-covered skin can also alleviate some of the pain. Soak a towel in cool water and then apply it for 20 minutes. Don't use cold water or ice since these can exacerbate the symptoms. Application of cool compresses also helps the blisters dry out so they can heal. Make sure to wash all towels or compresses used in the hottest water possible to kill any virus that might shed from oozing blisters.
Use Antihistamine or Hydrocortisone Creams
The temptation to scratch the blisters of a shingles rash can be overpowering. Resist the urge since breaking them open may allow secondary bacterial infections to take hold, increasing recovery time and possibly causing scarring. Treat the rash with antihistamine or hydrocortisone creams to reduce the itching. Calamine lotion also sometimes helps ease the itching. Try applying cornstarch or baking soda to weeping sores to calm the pain and help them dry out and heal.
Cover the Rash With Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly can help prevent scarring as the blisters dry out and begin to heal. In addition, it's likely to keep you from scratching and bursting the blisters. If you need help applying the petroleum jelly because of the location of the rash, make sure the person who helps you wears latex gloves and washes her hands thoroughly since any fluids weeping from the blisters can carry the virus.
Wear Loose Clothing
The feeling of clothing rubbing against a shingles rash can be very painful. Stick to loose clothing that doesn't rub against the rash so you don't irritate the blisters further.
Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen are all effective in staving off the pain from a shingles infection. If you are already taking any prescription medications to fight the virus, check with your doctor before adding any over-the-counter drugs to the mix since you may end up with inadvertent medication reactions.
Shingles is a manifestation of the same varicella zoster virus that causes the childhood disease chicken pox, and people who have the chicken pox virus latent in their bodies have about a 33 percent chance of developing shingles in adult life. Its symptoms include a rash similar to that experienced in chicken pox, but limited to one side of the body. Unlike chicken pox, however, shingles is typically accompanied by excruciating pain because the virus attaches to nerves. While shingles should be treated with antiviral medication, there are some home remedies to help deal with the pain and rash of the disease.