Herpes Shingles Treatment

Herpes shingles treatment is essential for helping sufferers of the shingles virus. Shingles (also known as herpes zoster or herpes shingles) is a virus which is caused as a result of the herpes varicella-zoster virus which also causes chickenpox. It is as a result of chickenpox that a person is open to the possibility of getting shingles, this is because the when the body creates antibodies to ensure immunity from chickenpox, herpes varicella-zoster remains in the sensory nervous system in a dormant state.

Herpes shingles causes an infection of the nerve which leads to varying degrees of pain and a rash along the route of the nerve, this rash will appear several days after symptoms of exhaustion, muscle pain and sensitivity in the affecting area have been present. The shingles rash begins as small red spots which then turn into painful blisters; the blisters eventually dry out, scab over and drop off in a similar way to chickenpox.

Medication used for shingles

Herpes shingles treatment is generally given in the form of painkilling medication and antiviral medication, a GP will generally combine the two to effectively treat the condition. Both types of medication are usually given in the form of tablets although antiviral medication is sometimes given in the form of a topical cream which can be rubbed into the affected area.

Painkilling medication prescribed by a GP will be given based on the level of pain being felt by the patient. In many cases, especially those in children and young adults when only mild symptoms are felt; the use of an over-the-counter painkiller such as paracetamol is generally all that is required. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used as an alternative painkiller in cases of mild to moderate pain although this will depend on the medical history of the patient.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen will not be considered on any patient that has:

  • Suffered from stomach problems
  • Suffered from kidney or liver problems
  • Has asthma
  • Is pregnant or breastfeeding


In pain is more severe a stronger painkiller can be prescribed for herpes shingles treatment, this can be in the form of opioids or drugs commonly used for other purposes such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Both antidepressants and anticonvulsants can effectively ease pain by controlling nerve activity in the brain.

The use of antiviral drugs is particularly beneficial in the treatment of herpes shingles. While there is no cure for the shingles virus, antiviral drugs can help to lower the severity and reduce how long shingles will last.

Commonly prescribed antiviral drugs for herpes shingles treatment are aciclovir, valaciclovir, famciclovir and each one can provide the benefit of stopping the virus from multiplying. The medication is usually given within three days of the rash appearing, although can be given up to a week after the rash. Antiviral drugs are only required in more severe cases of the herpes shingles virus, such as in cases of people over 50 and where there is a significant risk of complication.  




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