Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox--the varicella zoster virus. If you had chicken pox as a child, you may mysteriously develop shingles as an adult. It is more common after the age of 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This virus lays dormant in your system after you have had chicken pox and may reactivate later, causing an itchy rash, sometimes with blisters over your entire torso, though anywhere on the body is possible. Usually the rash will clear up within two weeks, but for some people there will be residual pain and itching, called post-herpetic neuralgia or post-shingles itching. There is no cure for post-shingles itching, but there are prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as home treatments that can make the itching and pain more manageable.
Things You'll Need
- Doctor's appointment
- Mild narcotic
- Corticosteroid injection
- Healthy eating
- Calamine lotion
- Bath water
Go to your doctor and get a prescription for a medication to reduce shingles itching, within 72 hours of the onset of the condition if possible, according to the Mayo Clinic. The sooner you start taking a prescription medicine for your shingles, will help to speed your recovery and may reduce the chances of it developing into post-shingles itching.
Ask your doctor for a topical numbing cream, spray or patch such as lidocaine, which can help relieve post-shingles itching.
Ask your doctor for a prescription for an anti-depressant. Antidepressants may release chemicals in your brain that may turn off the nerves that are making you itch even though the shingles rash is gone.
Ask your doctor to inject a corticosteroid into your spinal cord area to relieve the intense itching. This treatment is usually done when no other treatment works for your post-shingles itching.
Keep your immune system strong by getting enough rest, healthy eating and exercising. Developing shingles has been linked to a lowered immune system. If you can strengthen your immune system, the post-shingles itching may disappear as mysteriously as it appeared.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers that reduce swelling, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Take an over-the-counter antihistamine with the active ingredient diphenhydramine to relieve the post-shingles itching.
Use an over the counter anti-itch cream such as calamine lotion.
Consider using a cream made from the seeds of hot chili peppers called capsaicin. Follow the directions on the bottle and apply to the location that you are feeling the post-shingles itch, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Take a cool to warm bath with ground-up oatmeal to relieve the itching. Take two cups of oatmeal and grind it up in your blender. Pour the oatmeal in your bathwater and mix it around. Soak for about five to 10 minutes.