Guest Post by Rose Emma
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful skin condition triggered by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. In fact, the virus remains dormant in your body after you’ve been infected previously with chicken pox. If the virus becomes reactivated, often decades later, shingles occurs.
What Causes Shingles?
Scientists and doctors are still trying to figure out why the varicella-zoster virus gets reactivated to cause shingles. However, certain conditions have been linked to a higher risk of developing shingles.
These conditions include:
- A weak immune system
- Radiation treatments
What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?
The main symptoms of shingles are red skin rashes with pain and burning sensation. The rashes often appear in a small area of the face, back, or chest before spreading to other areas.
The rashes usually itch, tingle, and ache and can develop into blisters. Other symptoms of shingles that sometimes occur are fever, chills, headache, and body pain.
Normally, 1 to 3 days after feeling the pain, your skin breaks out into a red rash, then develops into bumps or blisters. The blisters will form scabs in about 10 to 12 days. At the end, the red rashes go away as the scabs fall off in about 3 weeks, leaving scars on the skin.
What Are Some Prescription Medications for Shingles?
Shingles usually goes away on its own after 3 to 4 weeks. However, this condition is very painful and annoying, causing huge discomfort to sufferers. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that those affected get treatment as soon as possible.
There are some antiviral medications that will be prescribed to decrease the duration of skin rash and reduce the pain. Some common antiviral medications for shingles are acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir).
Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor will decide which one you may need. These medications must be started within 72 hours after rash development for the best benefits.
In addition to antiviral medications, many people also prefer to use home remedies as simple but effective ways to relieve the symptoms of shingles.
5 of the Best Home Remedies for Shingles
- Cool showers or compresses
Daily cleansing is necessary as it helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other parts of the body. Also, cold water can control the pain from blisters and calm itchiness and irritation.
Taking a cool shower is fine. In addition to that, it is helpful to apply cold compresses to the affected areas. You can repeat the treatment several times throughout the day when you need to relieve symptoms.
Do not use too hot water or an ice pack as it can worsen the condition and make your skin more sensitive.
- Use organic lotion or oil
While using lotion and oil to treat shingles, it is very important to only use organic oils that have no added ingredients as they can cause irritation and make the condition more serious.
You can either use a cotton ball or your finger to apply coconut oil to affected areas after washing with water or using cold compresses.
Continue this remedy until you notice your symptoms have improved.
- Baking soda or corn starch paste
You can also use baking soda or corn starch and mix it with water to make a paste and apply it directly to the affected areas to keep the blisters dry, reduce pain, and speed the healing process.
To create a spreadable paste, add two tablespoons of baking soda or cornstarch and one tablespoon of water to a bowl, apply the resulting mixture to the rashes. Leave it on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse off with water.
You can repeat this remedy a few times a day if needed.
- Aloe vera
In addition to treating peeling skin naturally, aloe vera is one of the top home remedies for many skin-related infections, and shingles is included thanks to its cooling and healing properties.
Aloe vera can soothe the blisters, reduce the pain and itching, and help in the regeneration of damaged skin cells. Pure aloe vera gel from a plant is the best to use.
You can extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf and rub it directly on the affected areas. Rinse it off with cold water after 30 minutes.
You can follow this remedy three times daily until symptoms are relieved.
- Raw apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective home remedy for shingles. Thanks to its disinfectant and antiviral qualities, apple cider vinegar can prevent the virus from spreading and provide great relief from itchiness and pain.
To apply this remedy, soak an organic cotton cloth in raw apple cider vinegar and gently place it on the affected areas without peeling the skin on blisters.
Repeat this treatment twice a day until the infection is gone. You can also consume apple cider vinegar by mixing it with water or fresh juice for faster results.
Shingles is a painful condition, and those living with a chronic illness may be especially susceptible to developing it. These natural remedies can help ease the pain and itch, so you don’t have to suffer.
Author’s bio: This article is written by Rose Emma – Senior Editor of Authority Remedies. She works as a health care expert in the field of Nutrition and Health for over 2 years after training in Food and Nutrition Dietetics at Bluffton University. With all the experience she’s accumulated since college, she provides others with useful information about nutrition, as helps with their common health problems.