Shingles Treatment

In the UK around 3 in 1,000 people are affected by shingles each year. The virus is an infection of the nerve and the area of skin which surrounds it, any age group can become infected with shingles although it more prevalent in over 50’s and particularly the over 80’s, with children much less at risk.

The rashes which occur as a result of shingles will typically last between seven and ten days and take in the region of two to four weeks to properly heal. There is no known cure for the virus although shingles treatment methods can be implemented to help ease the symptoms.

Treatment for shingles rash

Many shingles treatment methods are carried at home; in the case of the rash there are numerous things that can be done to ease irritation and help to speed up healing time.

The first thing that must be done is to keep the rash as clean and as dry as possible, and doing this will help lower the risk of the rash becoming infected with bacteria. If there is a need to cover the rash to avoid the infection spreading to another person then the use of non- adherent dressings is recommended. A non-adherent dressing will not stick to the rash and will not slow down the healing process in the way that adhesive dressings such as plasters do.

To help with comfort, loose clothing is recommended. This will also benefit the rashes as tight clothing can irritate the rashes and slow down healing time. For the soothing and relief of itchiness of the rashes, Calamine lotion should be used in favour of rub-in antibiotics. Allergy treatments such as antihistamine may also prove successful at relieving itchiness during the night.

Using painkilling medication for shingles treatment

Shingles can be a painful virus for suffers and GP’s may prescribe or recommend the use of painkillers to ease the symptoms. There are different painkillers that can be used:

  • Paracetamol. This is the most widely used painkiller for shingles treatment and is available for over-the-counter purchase.
  • Ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as this one are a good alternative type of painkiller although they may not be suitable for shingles sufferers that are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffer from asthma or have stomach or kidney problems.
  • Opioids. These are used for adults with more severe pain as a result of shingles. Opioids are strong painkillers which are generally prescribed to be taken alongside paracetamol.
  •   Anti-depressants. These are used to combat severe and long term pain and are prescribed in a much lower dose than for sufferers of depression. There are side effects to this drug, including constipation, blurred vision, difficulty urinating, drowsiness, weight gain and dry mouth.
  • Anticonvulsants. Although commonly associated with use for controlling seizures, anticonvulsants can be used to help manage nerve pain. This is done by stabilising the electrical nerve activity in the brain.  There are side effects of with this kind of shingles treatment which may include dizziness, headaches, swollen ankles, diarrhoea and dry mouth.





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