Shingles, or herpes zoster, occurs when the virus that caused chickenpox "reawakens" again in a person's body, triggered by disease, stress or a weakened immune system. It's a rash-causing infection that can be treated with oatmeal baths to help soothe the skin.
Colloidal oatmeal (whole oats that are finely ground) creates a milky, gelatinous texture (resulting from its cellulose and fiber) when added to bath water . It coats the skin, moisturizing and relieving itching.
An oatmeal bath can be made by grinding whole, unflavored oats in a coffee grinder or food processor until they're extremely fine in texture. A few cups of the homemade colloidal oatmeal can then be added to warm bath water.
According to WebMD, individuals can experience "pain, burning, tickling, tingling, and/or numbness ... in the area around the affected nerves several days or weeks before a rash appears." Flu-like symptoms often occur, such as chills, nausea, diarrhea and body aches. A rash usually follows on just one side of the body and blisters will form. WebMD indicates that the blisters "may break open, ooze and crust over in about five days," with the rash healing in about two to four weeks.
Contagion and Vaccines
Someone can catch shingles if they've never had chickenpox before. The fluid inside the rash blisters is contagious. There is a vaccine available for chickenpox (varicella) as well as for shingles (Zostavax).
At-Risk Groups for Shingles
Someone who has never had chickenpox, pregnant women, infants, children and those with compromised immune systems have a higher risk of developing shingles.
Other Remedies for Shingles
Someone suffering from shingles should keep the skin clean and not scratch the rash blisters. Over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can help reduce pain. A common home remedy for chickenpox and shingles rashes is mixing a paste of cornstarch and water to help alleviate itching.