Shingles is a condition that manifests itself in the form of a painful rash. It is brought about by the exact same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella zoster. Also sometimes referred to as herpes zoster, shingles is commonly treated by the administration of antiviral medications to reduce the symptoms as well as to shorten the duration of the painful condition. There are, however, several home remedies that are known to provide effective relief from shingles.
Who Can Get Shingles?
Anyone who had chickenpox in the past can get shingles. The varicella zoster virus does not really go away after you catch it and develop chickenpox. What happens is it remains dormant inside the body. For some people, the virus remains inactive for good. There are some, however, who are not as fortunate as the rest. The dormant varicella zoster virus in them may become active once more, causing shingles.
There’s an assortment of reasons why the virus responsible for both chickenpox and shingles can go from dormant to active. One of them is a weakened immune system due to the natural process of aging, trauma, injury or stress. Certain medications may also cause the dormant varicella zoster to awaken and wreak havoc to the health.
What are the Symptoms of Shingles?
The primary symptom of shingles is rash that appears in the form of a band or strip. It’s also possible for it to develop on one side of the body or small portion only. But before the characteristic rash appears, there are a few signs and symptoms someone who is suffering from shingles may encounter.
Initially, the person may have a headache or become sensitive to light. Eventually, he or she may feel some itching or pain in the area where the rash is about to develop. Small blisters then appear and crust over. Commonly, the blisters take 2 to 4 weeks to completely heal. It is possible for some people with shingles to encounter no rash.
Getting Relief from Shingles Naturally
As mentioned earlier, shingles is treated with the use of antiviral medications. This helps in dealing with the symptoms as well as in speeding up the healing process. There are also some natural remedies for shingles that you may try, such as:
- Having a cool bath. Soaking your body in cool water helps very well in dealing with the physical discomfort caused by shingles. However, make sure that the water isn’t too cold as it will only bring more pain than keep them to a bare minimum. Make sure that you dry yourself thoroughly afterwards and launder the towel with your washing machine set to the hottest setting to prevent others from getting shingles.
- Applying wet compress on affected areas. If soaking in cool water for several minutes isn’t an option, you may attain relief from rash pain with the simple application of wet compress. Dip a small towel or soft piece of cloth in cold water and wring out the excess. Place on painful skin areas. Refrain from opting for an ice pack as it will only augment the pain.
- Taking a colloidal oatmeal bath. Adding colloidal oatmeal to lukewarm water makes for a relaxing bath that also helps make the symptoms of shingles more tolerable. These days, you can easily purchase colloidal oatmeal over the counter at most pharmacies. You may also choose to go for a starch bath. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the packaging and opt for lukewarm water, not hot.
- Smoothing lotion on painful rash. The application of soothing lotion can help take away much of the discomfort. However, see to it that the lotion you are about to apply contains no harsh chemicals such as perfume and alcohol as you may only cause the rash to get irritated. Wash your hands immediately or ask the person who helped you apply the lotion to do the same to keep the risk of varicella zoster infection to a minimum.
- Doing your best to relax. Being stressed may only increase your pain perception, thus causing you to feel more discomfort. It is a good idea to deal with stress effectively to help relax both the mind and body. Look for activities that help calm you down while keeping your mind preoccupied, such as listening to music, watching your favorite sitcom or writing in your journal.
- Applying cream containing capsaicin. Many people suffering from shingles swear by the efficacy of applying OTC pain-relieving creams containing capsaicin. However, it’s a good idea to rely on this solution only after the blisters have healed yet some pain persists.