Antiviral Drugs For Shingles Treatment

There are around 250,000 cases of shingles in the UK each year, with two thirds of those cases affecting people over the age of 50. The shingles virus can be a painful one and it is caused by a virus known as herpes zoster-varicella which will have previously dormant in the nervous system following a bout of chickenpox. Shingles causes an infection two or three of the nerves which causes pain and a rash on the skin.

As there is no cure for the virus, doctors in the UK rely on the use of painkilling medication and antiviral drugs for shingles treatment. These medications can help to ease the symptoms for sufferers over the course of the virus which generally lasts 2-4 weeks. Antiviral medication is seen as particularly is helping shingles suffers and provides various benefits.

Benefits of antiviral medication for shingles

Antiviral drugs for shingles treatment are used only is cases of more severe symptoms and where there is a risk of a patient developing a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia which causes extreme nerve pain after the shingles virus has gone. In shingles cases that involve children and young adults, antiviral drugs are not normally required as symptoms are mild and risk of complication is low.

Antiviral drugs are not designed to kill the shingles virus but to stop it from multiplying; they are also beneficial for reducing the severity of the condition and reducing the length of time that the virus lasts. It is thought that antiviral drugs can reduce the risk of pain which is felt as a result of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN); however research has shown that antivirals taken during a bout of shingles have little effect on whether or not pain is felt because of PHN.

Who should take antiviral drugs for shingles treatment?

There are certain groups, in which antiviral drugs are considered to be beneficial; the first one is any patient over the age of 50. Developing shingles in older age will put a sufferer more at risk of the potential complications as a result of the virus; there is also a greater chance of developing a more severe strain of shingles.

Patients of any age which any of the following symptoms, will be prescribed antiviral drugs:

  • Shingles that effects the eyes or ear
  • Patients that suffer from a weaken immune system
  • Shingles which affects uncommon parts of the body such as neck, arms, legs or genitals
  • Moderate to severe pain as a result of shingles
  • Moderate to severe pain as a result of the shingles rash

When to take antiviral drugs for shingles treatment?

The most commonly prescribed antiviral drugs to treat shingles are aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir. It is recommended that the drugs are taken within 72 hours of the rash appearing, although many GP’s will prescribe them up to a week after the rash or if a patient is at risk of developing severe symptoms. Antiviral drugs are normally required to be taken over a course of seven days.




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