Treatment For Herpes Zoster Shingles

Herpes zoster shingles can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition; it affects around 250,000 people in the UK each year and causes an infection of the nerve and skin along the route of the nerve. Herpes zoster shingles develops thanks to a reactivation of a virus which lays dormant in the body after a bout of childhood chickenpox, this virus is known as herpes varicella-zoster. There is no cure for the virus, although treatment for herpes zoster shingles can be given to help ease pain and reduce the severity of the virus.

Treatments given to help with the symptoms of shingles

Treatment for herpes zoster shingles is essential in helping people cope with the symptoms of the virus. A bout of shingles will generally last between two and four weeks and will generally disappear after this time whether treatment has been provided or not, however, unlike chickenpox which causes little pain, shingles can be severe and can cause complications long after the rash has disappeared.

Symptoms can be felt before the rash of red spots and then blisters has appeared and many suffers complain of being unwell, suffering from headaches, exhaustion and muscle pain as well as having a tingling, burning and numbness in the affected area.  Should any of these symptoms be felt then it is wise to visit a doctor who will be able to start you on the correct treatment immediately.

The two main elements for herpes zoster shingles treatment are the pain and the rash and GP’s will generally prescribe painkilling medication along with antiviral medication to tackle both problems.

Painkilling medication that is prescribed will depend on the severity of the pain. In shingles cases in children and young adults, pain is usually mild and can be kept under control through the use of paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Approximately two thirds of all herpes zoster shingles cases are found in people over 50 years of age, the pain is often more severe than cases of young adults and children. This may require the prescription of a stronger painkiller such as codeine which is an opioid.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants, normally associated with depression and epilepsy respectively are also used in cases of prolonged and severe pain. Cases of herpes zoster shingles in which the patient has begun to suffer from a chronic nerve pain known as postherpetic neuralgia, will often require the use of an antidepressant or anticonvulsant to dampen the nerve sensitivity by affecting chemicals in the brain.

Antiviral drugs are also important in herpes zoster shingles treatment. These drugs are taken within the first three days of a rash appearing and can help to reduce the severity of shingles and reduce the length of time that the virus will last.

Antiviral drugs can ease pain and will stop the virus from multiplying; they are given only in more severe cases where the risk of complication is high, and where there is risk to areas of the body such as the eyes and ears.




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