Treatment for shingles involves a number of strategies, and it may be necessary to make several different attempts in order to clear up a shingles infection in a given individual. Properly treating shingles requires prescription medications, and you should seek a doctor's advice as soon as possible after shingles appears. Additional treatment may be necessary if the pain of shingles develops into a chronic condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which lasts even after shingles sores are no longer present.
Recovering From Shingles
Visit your doctor as soon as possible after you notice development of the rash associated with shingles. The rash of shingles is red, with fluid-filled blisters, and occurs on one side of the body, generally somewhere between the buttocks and torso but sometimes also on the head and face. Beginning treatment early is important because antiviral medications are most effective when started within three days, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Use corticosteroids, painkillers and topical agents as prescribed by your doctor. According to Seth John Stankus and colleagues of the Eisenhower Army Medical Center, the recommendation is to set up a pain relief schedule, which allows you to avoid pain between doses.
Alert your doctor if your pain lasts after the shingles sores go away. This indicates the presence of PHN, which requires additional treatment, including some tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants as well as topical lidocaine and possibly other treatments. Follow your doctor's recommendations on these therapies.
Tips & Warnings
- The shingles vaccine can be used even in people who have already had shingles in order to reduce the chances of developing another outbreak; see Resources.
- Let your doctor know if your pain relief regimen is not working; stronger medications may need to be prescribed.
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