5 Natural Treatments for Shingles
Natural Treatments for Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash on the body. This rash can occur anywhere on the body, but it’s most commonly found on the torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once you have chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in your body. Later in life, stress or illness can reactivate the virus, and you may develop shingles.
Antiviral medications are most often prescribed to treat the painful rash. These medicines help shorten the duration of shingles and reduce the symptoms. Some natural treatments may be effective in easing the pain and discomfort of shingles.. These can be used in conjunction with medication, or you can use them alone while the virus runs its course.
Take a Cool Bath
Cool water can help ease the painful, uncomfortable skin of shingles. Soak in the water for several minutes, and then dry your skin completely. Be sure the water isn’t too cold, though. Your skin will react to water if the temperature is too low, which could lead to more pain.
Wash any towels that come into contact with your skin in the hottest water setting on your washing machine. Open blisters or scratched skin can transmit the varicella-zoster virus. The risk is low, but it’s better to be safe.
Use a Wet Compress
Cool, wet compresses work much the same way a cool bath does. The cool compress helps to ease pain and irritation. Soak a towel or cloth with cool water. Wring the water out, and then apply the compress to your rash for several minutes at a time. Do not use ice packs.
Again, it’s important you do not reuse any towels or cloths that comes into contact with your rash. Wash used towels to prevent passing on the virus to someone else.
Take a Healing Bath
Colloidal oatmeal baths and starch baths can help heal irritated, painful skin. Many are available over-the-counter at a drugstore.
Add the product to a lukewarm bath. Do not use hot water. Hot water may further irritate your skin and worsen the rash.
If you use an over-the-counter product from the drugstore, follow the package’s instructions. Dry your skin thoroughly, then wash and disinfect any towels.
Use Soothing Lotions
Not all lotions will heal or help ease the effects of shingles. Scented or perfumed lotions may actually be too irritating and can cause additional discomfort. Use soothing lotions, such as calamine lotion, on the affected area.
Wash your hands after applying the lotions, or ask anyone who applies the lotion to wash their hands immediately. The risk is small, but you could transmit the virus to another person if you do not thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
Use Natural Pain Relievers
Some creams that contain capsaicin may be useful in reducing pain caused by shingles. Capsaicin is a pepper extract, and it has been used for centuries as a natural pain reliever. These medicines are available over the counter or with a doctor’s prescription. Follow the directions on the product, and do not apply the cream more than the recommended times in a day.
These creams will not speed up the duration of the shingles, but they may make them less painful and easier to tolerate.
Can Natural Treatments Cure Shingles?
Traditional shingles treatments, such as antiviral medications, are very effective at cutting the virus’s stay short. If you choose not to use the medicines, you may experience a longer period of illness. Natural remedies will help to ease the discomfort of shingles, and may even speed up the healing process. Shingles will eventually clear up on its own. Most cases are gone in about three weeks. According to the National Institutes of Health, shingles rarely returns.
Alleviate the Pain
If you are diagnosed with shingles, talk to your doctor about which treatments are right for you. Many of the medicines used to treat shingles are well tolerated and do help alleviate a great deal of the pain and discomfort. However, natural treatments can help, too, and can often be used in conjunction with prescribed medication. Talk with your doctor about your options.
- Shingles: Lifestyle and home remedies. (n.d.) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/shingles/lifestyle.html.
- Shingles. (2012, 30 May). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000858.htm.
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster). (2012, 19 Oct). National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/prevention-treatment.html.