Shingles normally present as a rash of small blisters on one side of the body. The pain associated with shingles can be mild or throbbing. Fever, nausea and headache are other common symptoms. Although shingles must run their course, there are both prescription medications and home remedies that can promote faster healing and speed recovery time. However, if the rash doesn’t heal itself within a few weeks, or you suffer from a chronic health condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may have to prescribe more aggressive treatment to get the virus that causes shingles under control.
Cover the area with a clean bandage or sterile gauze to keep from scratching the blisters when they itch. Breaking the skin can spread the infection.
Sprinkle baby powder on the blisters to draw out moisture so the rash heals faster. Keep the irritated area clean and dry. Wash with lukewarm water and an antibacterial soap. Rub gently. Allow the skin to air-dry.
Take an over-the-counter analgesic or anti-inflammatory, like aspirin or ibuprofen, to ease the pain. This may also help to reduce fever, which sometimes occurs along with the infection. In severe cases of shingles, prescription narcotics may be prescribed to alleviate pain.
Apply a topical lotion like calamine lotion for temporary relief from pain and itching. The effects of zinc and iron oxide combined help to reduce irritation. A cool compress also works to relieve burning and itching.
Use a capsaicin cream to soothe itching. Ingredients in the cream numb the area, providing relief from both pain and itching. Scratching can lead to bacterial infection, which will prolong healing of the shingles rash. Take an oral antihistamine if itching gets too severe.
See your doctor. He may decide to prescribe stronger medication. Although antiviral drugs usually comprise the first course of medical treatment, corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation. However, common antiviral medications like acyclovir or valacyclovir are usually more effective for treating shingles. These medications also have fewer adverse side effects than the corticosteroid prednisone. Early treatment of shingles with antiviral medications can reduce the duration of the rash
Ask about lidocaine patches that are worn on the skin. The lidocaine actually acts as a local anesthetic. Remove the patch if a burning sensation occurs.