Shingles Pain Treatment

Shingles pain treatment is often the biggest requirement in cases of the shingles virus, and patients will suffer from varying degrees of pain from the virus which affects the nerve endings and the area of skin along the nerve route.

Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the herpes varicella-zoster virus which is found in a dormant state in the body as a result of chickenpox which many people contract as children. There are strong links which suggest that the virus is caused when the immune system is in a weakened state; there are many circumstances when this can be the case including:

  • Old age
  • HIV and AIDS
  • After organ transplant
  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition
  • Other medication


As there is no cure for the shingles virus, doctors rely on the use of medication to provide treatment and ease the symptoms that are felt during and often after the virus.

Paracetamol for shingles pain treatment

Paracetamol is an excellent drug for relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate pain; there are also little or no side effects present when using the medication. The use of paracetamol is common in cases of shingles in children and young adults when the symptoms of pain are mild; cases of the virus in the over 50’s may warrant a stronger medication.

Ibuprofen for shingles pain treatment

Ibuprofen is a non –steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is often used as an alternative painkiller to paracetamol, on some occasions the two can be alternated to keep pain symptoms under control. Like paracetamol, ibuprofen also provides pain relief for mild to moderate pain; however, it does have the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory which can help with the shingles rash. There are a number of side effects with ibuprofen such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Opioids for shingles pain treatment

If the symptoms of pain are severe, a patient may be prescribed an opioid. Common opioid based painkillers that are prescribed for shingles are codeine and morphine; however, the latter is used in only rare circumstances. Opioids are able to affect nerve activity in the brain and spinal cord and lower the senses of the nerve endings; this will result in less pain being felt. Opioids are fast acting painkillers and are often used in cases of postherpetic neuralgia but a patient on this medication will have to contend with side effects including constipation, headaches and hallucinations.

Tricyclic antidepressants for shingles pain treatment

The use of tricyclic antidepressants in cases of shingles has been found to have numerous benefits in relieving chronic and prolonged pain. This medication works by affecting chemicals in the brain which react to pain, as a result nerve senses are dampened down as pain is controlled. Side effects are also present in this medication with dizziness, drowsiness and headaches common.

Anticonvulsants for shingles pain treatment

Anticonvulsants are commonly used to control epileptic fits, they are also excellent in reducing the pain felt as a result of shingles. Like opioids and antidepressants, they work by stabilising nerve activity in the brain to lower the feeling in the nerves. Common side effects include diarrhoea, dry mouth and headaches.




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