What is shingles? Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes a painful, blistering rash on one side of the body and can also affect other parts of the body. The pain from this condition can be intense, and it can cause complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which causes a burning pain to last for months or even years after the initial onset of shingles. Treatments are available, but most people with shingles seek relief through home remedies before seeing a doctor. In this article, we will discuss some of these early treatments that may help you deal with your symptoms until you have an appointment with your physician.
What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?
Before we talk about treatments for shingles, we will talk about some of the signs and symptoms of shingles to better understand this condition and how the treatment options help in the healing process.
The most common symptoms of shingles are pain, burning, or itching. You may also experience flu-like symptoms in the beginning stages, including fever and chills. The rash usually appears on one side of your body, although it is possible (depending on the severity of the infection) that it will move around to other areas such as your face, mouth, or eyes. The rash is usually made up of blisters that are filled with fluid. The skin around the site can be red, swollen, and tender to the touch. This may last for a few days or even weeks, depending on your immune system’s response to the virus.
What causes shingles?
The varicella-zoster virus, which causes this condition, is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Even after you have healed from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in your nerve cells and may reactivate later in life. This would imply that when you are inflicted with shingles, it means your body’s immune system has weakened, and this sudden reactivation can be troublesome to deal with.
Some risk factors are associated with getting shingles, including age (it most commonly occurs in adults over 50), cancer, HIV/AIDS, and in people who have received an organ transplant or are currently taking immunosuppressive medication.
What are the early treatments I can try for shingles?
There is no cure for the varicella-zoster virus, so treatment options focus on managing symptoms to help with healing and preventing flare-ups in the future. One of the most important things to remember is that if you have a rash, call your doctor right away because shingles can be a severe condition.
Medical treatments that your doctor may recommend include:
- Antiviral medications such as acyclovir or famciclovir will work on helping your body to combat the virus. This medication is most effective if you take it within the first 72 hours of getting a shingles rash.
- Antiviral creams such as penciclovir may also help with healing and prevent scarring.
- Painkillers, including over the counter (OTC) medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen or prescription-only medications such as codeine and tramadol, depending on the level of pain experienced
- Topical solutions including lidocaine, capsaicin, or calamine to provide relief for pain and itching
Some natural home remedies for reducing the severity of your symptoms include:
- Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated
- Getting enough rest (take it easy on yourself while this infection heals!)
- Eating healthy and nutritious foods (fruits and veggies)
- Applying ice packs to the affected area may help reduce pain and swelling.
- Bathing in cold water and incorporating ground oatmeal into the bathing water may help provide some relief to the irritated skin.
Are there any long-term effects from having shingles?
Shingles can be tough to deal with, especially in older adults. It is essential to seek medical treatment for this condition, and some symptoms require emergency care, such as:
- A rash near your eyes (as this could cause loss of vision or other eye problems such as glaucoma) or mouth (this may lead to difficulty swallowing or speaking)
- If you experience a severe headache accompanied by neck stiffness, fever, or confusion, this could be the result of shingles that has spread to your spinal cord.
- Severe pain in the affected area (a fever may also accompany this)
If you experience symptoms like these, call 911 right away. You can prevent the long-term effects of shingles by staying on top of your treatment, following the natural home remedies mentioned above in conjunction with your medical treatment, and taking care of yourself.
In conclusion, shingles is a condition that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, and while there is no cure for this disease, it can be treated so that you do not have to endure the pain of shingles. Some risk factors are associated with getting shingles, including age (those over the age of 50), cancer, HIV/AIDS, and people who have received an organ transplant or are currently taking immunosuppressive medication. It is essential to seek medical treatment if you experience a rash as this could be shingles and can cause serious problems such as pain, vision loss (in the case of your eyes), difficulty swallowing, or speaking (if in or around the mouth). The most important thing to remember if you think you have this condition is to seek medical attention immediately, especially since early treatment is highly beneficial in reducing the lasting side effects caused by this disease.