Extremely painful and unaesthetic, shingles is a type of affliction that needs to be taken seriously. Luckily for all patients out there, there are a number of treatments and home remedies for shingles which you can undergo, should you not wish to abide by the traditional medicinal cures. Here is our fantastic list which will get you going as fast as you can say ‘shingles, be gone!!’
What Is Shingles?
If you are planning to treat this ailment at home and by yourself, you must do your homework first. Research is in order, as this is a serious infection that may lead to complications if poorly treated. Therefore, the first thing you need to know about shingles is that it’s a viral infection which results in a very painful, reddish rash or shingles blisters. Since it is a viral infection, it’s able to spread all over your body, although it’s generally localized in different areas, especially around the middle of your torso and on one side of your face.
Children don’t normally contract shingles, but it may happen. It’s usually a disease reserved for adults and people with weak immune systems who contract it because of stress, certain medicinal treatments, and injuries.
The majority of individuals who contract and develop shingles get better quickly and will not get it another time. However, that is not a rule, and it can transform into a recurrent outbreak, especially if the patient’s immune system is extremely weakened. It can also happen if the symptoms of shingles are ignored and the ailment has not been treated properly and the virus has not left the person’s body or if it’s merely dormant and is ‘woken up’ by another disease or injury.
What Causes Shingles?
Since it’s an infection, that means it’s caused by a virus, called varicella zoster. It’s also known as herpes zoster because it’s related to both herpes and zona zoster viruses.
Shingles happen when the same virus that causes chickenpox decides to act up again and have another go at your body. This basically means that, after you have chicken pox, there is a good chance the virus stays in your system but just remains dormant in the nerve roots. As time goes by, different factors, such as aging, disease, stress, and anxiety weaken your immune system. Other factors, medicine included can then easily trigger the virus to wake up and flare. It’s not entirely clear why this process happens the way it does. However, once the virus has awakened again, it can only cause shingles, but not chickenpox.
A paramount thing as far as knowledge about shingles goes is that you cannot catch it from someone else. First of all, because that is not the way it spreads and second of all because modern medicinal and law practices oblige parents to vaccinate their children against chickenpox from a very early age. This means you are protected against the virus itself, so you cannot contract the disease.
However, if you haven’t had the shot, there are some chances, even though remote, to get shingles from another person who is currently suffering from it.
What Are the Symptoms Related to Shingles?
When it comes to shingles, its symptoms happen in different stages. First of all, you will experience headaches, or you will notice you are sensitive to light or both. Patients state they felt like they had the flu, but without the fever and stuffy nose that accompany it.
Tingling and itchiness characterize the next stage and even pain in a particular area of your body where the disease is silently developing. This means that only a few days onwards, a strip of rash will be visible with the naked eye. Soon enough, the rash itself will turn into shingles blisters which will clump together into clusters. Next, the blisters will fill up with fluid, and, as time goes by, a crust will form on them.
It’s also a possibility that you will feel dizzy and/or nauseated. Weakness is also a sign that something is happening to your body, and you should not overlook it. If you get a rash in the face, then your vision might get impaired, you might have trouble concentrating and even thinking, which is a sign that the rash, localized so high up in your body is now spreading and reaching your brain.
If you experience any of these shingles symptoms, call a doctor or go to the emergency room straight away. However, some people suffered from shingles and didn’t even get a rash, let alone all the other symptoms. If you are one of these people, there are some excellent home remedies for shingles which you can try. This piece of information brings us to the following.
What Are the Best Home Remedies for Shingles?
Here are some marvelous home remedies for treating shingles that may help you relieve some of the pain, swelling, redness, and unappealing effect.
#1. Take care of your disease
This might sound weird, but it’s not. When it comes to shingles, taking care of your condition actually means taking care of your blisters and irritations. Do not scratch them or further harm them in any way when you feel pain and itching, as it will not help with the healing process but rather make it all worse. Don’t pick at them either. If you leave them be, they will form a crust in a natural way and then fall off without leaving any traces on your skin when you are healed.
One of the best home remedies for shingles itching is to take lukewarm showers, as too cold or too hot a bath, might cause you discomfort. Don’t wear any tight fitting clothes and make sure they are not made from synthetic materials. You need to allow your skin to breathe as much as possible and not cause further irritation. Also, it’s best if you refrain from any type of sporting activity, running, or jogging that might cause you to sweat. As you, probably, already know, sweat is salty, and it will cause even more pain and sting as the disease progresses. Try to work and sleep in a cool environment that will not cause your skin more damage and discomfort than it’s already experiencing.
Home and natural remedies for shingles are simple. For example, do not let others touch you, rub against you or feel your irritation. Sexual intercourse should be avoided during the sickness period as well.
#2. Water Is Your Friend
This entry on the home remedies for shingles pain relief list might not actually cure your disease, but it will help soothe you to a great extent. As pointed out above, lukewarm showers can work miracles for a distressed skin, as will cold compresses. Simply dip a cloth in cold water and let in sit on your affected area as long as you want. The coolness and the dampness of the water will relieve some of the pain, and you might even sleep better. You can even add some organic herbs and spices to that cold compresses or lukewarm water, provided you are not allergic to them. Some of these plants are mint, lemon balm, chamomile, and lavender. They all have calming effects and will cool down your itchiness just enough for you to relax.
#3. Help Your Skin
You can also help your skin to get better and enhance the healing process by not exposing it to direct sunlight or to freezing cold temperatures. If you suffer from Shingles and are looking for some home remedies for shingles, try not to sit in the sun in the summertime or leave the house improperly dressed in wintertime. These extreme temperatures harm your skin and gravely extend the healing period.
Building on this idea for home remedies for shingles, don’t apply body lotions, creams, body butters, sun lotions, essential oils or self-tanning creams. Do not visit tanning salons, do not scrub, do not spray tan yourself during this period, and be generally careful about the hygiene products you use.
It might so happen that your regular shower gel, soap or shampoo damages you rather than help, so it’s best to leave it aside while you are recovering. Makeup and perfume might irritate you further, so be careful if and how much you use. It’s very tempting to put a lot of makeup on, especially if you have that type of shingles that covers one side of your face, to overcompensate from an aesthetic point of view, but it might actually harm you.
If the foundation and other face makeup products you use are not completely natural and organic, you might find they increase the rash and redness. Keep a fresh face while suffering from this disease and stick with natural home remedies for shingles itch.
#4. Dry Out the Sores
One way of relieving the pain via home remedies for shingles is to help the sores dry out. Usually, they do dry out of their own accord, but this takes time. You can use some oatmeal, cornstarch or baking soda to hasten the drying process along. Mix a tablespoon of either powder with water until you get a runny concoction. Use a cotton swab or an immaculate cotton cloth to dab your affected areas as gently as you can. Repeat this throughout the day as many times as you want or feel the need to.
#5. Clean Away the Crusts
Another great tip on our home remedies for shingles list is to clean away the crust the sores make while they are healing. You can simply soak them with water as hot or warm as you feel like or you can use some Burow’s Solution. This is a liquid made from water and 5% aluminum subacetate. It will relieve the itching and stinging in case your skin is irritated or inflamed. The great thing is that it works for other types of rashes too, not just for shingles. It also stops fungi and bacteria from growing and developing onto your skin and causing more damage.
You can buy Burow’s Solution in almost all drugstores and pharmacies, without a prescription. When it comes to shingles, it will not only clean away the crust but dry and soothe the skin as well, without leaving any scars.
#6. Using Pain Medicine
As noted above, one of the main symptoms of shingles is the fact that the rashes themselves and the areas they affect can get very painful. While treating them either with prescription medicine or home remedies for shingles, you can also take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Although they won’t help actually cure the shingles, you will suffer less from the pain and will be able to get on with your daily activities. They also help with the postherpetic pain patients usually suffer from. And, since we’re on the topic, let’s look at the following topic.
What Is the Conventional Treatment for Shingles?
Conventional medicine treatments for shingles are conservatively through symptomatic medications for pain and itching. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines like acetaminophen, prescription narcotics, ibuprofen and in some cases, steroids can be used in managing pain, while anti-allergy/ antihistamines are often prescribed for itchiness
Antiviral drugs such as famciclovir (Famvir), valacyclovir (Valtrex) or acyclovir (Zovirax), or can be used in high dosages in minimizing the severity and duration of the shingle symptoms. These drugs work effectively when taken within the first two days of the shingle rash. Immediate treatment eases discomfort and reduces the risk of possible complications.
Neuralgic pain can be treated with different therapies like skin patches that release the anesthetic lidocaine. Although not a home remedy for shingles nerve pain, this patch can relieve pain for 4 to 12 hours an can help minimize discomfort. Other conventional treatment options are anticonvulsant drugs like Neurontin and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. TENS uses electrodes in the pain area that deliver small electrical impulses to the nearby nerve pathways.
Are There Any Shingles Complications You Should Be Aware of?
Unfortunately, the answer is ‘yes’. Even though you treat your affliction via medicine or home remedies for shingles, there are some complications you need to be aware of, such as these.
- Postherpetic neuralgia or PHN is the condition described above, and it means the residual pain the patient can still feel after their shingles are cured. Sadly enough, the pain can endure for months and even years after that, and it’s quite excruciating. Given the fact that shingles affect the nerves, one can understand how painful this is.
- Disseminate zoster – it’s another type of rash that typically spreads over vast areas of the body. It can even affect the inside, attacking the heart, lungs, liver, joints, and intestines.
- Complications of the cranial nerves – provided shingles affect the nerves in your brain, this can trigger the following:
- – pain
- – loss of feeling in the eyes or just one of them
- – impaired vision
- – ear pains
- – loss of hearing
- – dizziness
- – inability to move certain parts of the face because the facial nerves have been affected
- – dry mouth and eyes
- Discoloration of the skin and scars
- Infections in the blisters caused by present bacteria.
As one can well see, shingles is definitely not a disease to be toyed with. If you notice even the slightest sign you might be suffering from one form of shingles or another, the best piece of advice is to visit your physician. He or she will be able to confirm or deny the diagnosis and suggest a course of treatment. It is advised you follow it strictly. Other than that, you may also try our fantastic list of home remedies for shingles!
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.