What Medications Help For Shingles Pain
Pain from shingles can be very distressing. If you need help managing your pain, talk to your provider about the options below. The right one for you will depend on many factors, like how bad your pain is, other medications youre taking, and any other health issues you have.
None of these options are a replacement for the antivirals above, and they are generally for short-term use, since longer use can increase your risk for side effects.
NSAIDs. For shingles pain, start with NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can find these over the counter on pharmacy store shelves, and they include popular medications like , , and . These are meant for short-term relief of mild to moderate pain.
Glucocorticoids. For more severe pain, glucocorticoids like may help. They may also speed up healing from shingles.
Opioid pain medications. Lastly, you can ask your provider about an opioid pain medication like oxycodone or hydrocodone/acetaminophen. These are also for short-term treatment. Opioids come with a risk for causing dependency and addiction, among other side effects.
Take An Oatmeal Bath To Relieve Itching
Oats are widely known for their anti-itching property. You can add ground oats to bath water and settle in for a soak to relieve your itchy rash. Finely ground oats turns into a gooey mass when mixed with water. This coats your skin, soothing your skin and relieving itching. This calming property of oats is attributed to its gluten content.10
Natural Remedies For Shingles To Relieve An Outbreak
Here are eight effective natural remedies for shingles to relieve an outbreak:
Shingles is a serious illness, so contact your doctor if you suspect that you have it.
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What Can I Do For The Pain
To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. This could include acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Applying a medicated anti-itch lotion to the blisters might reduce the pain and itching. Placing cool compresses soaked in water mixed with white vinegar on the blisters and sores might also help.
If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medicine.
From Topical Pain Medications To Yoga These Strategies Provide Nerve Pain Relief That Lasts
Nerve pain symptoms range from mild tingling sensations to burning to intolerable stabbing pain.
A shooting pain that takes your breath away. A throbbing ache that wont let up. Tingling fingers and toes. Nerve pain comes in various forms and can be debilitating in many waysdepression, anxiety, and infections, for example.
Our bodies contain billions of nerves that send billions of messages to our brains and spinal cords. Messages like, Ouch, thats hot or Yikes, that hurts. Any damage to these nerves can disrupt the messaging process, causing a multitude of problems. Your nerves may send pain messages when theres no reason to, for instance. Or, damaged nerves could leave you without feeling in your hand, meaning the ouch, thats hot message wont get through. With almost 20 million Americans suffering from peripheral neuropathy its no wonder so many of us are searching for nerve pain relief.
Far too often, treating nerve pain is an uphill battle. As stated by researchers of a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, Chronic neuropathic pain is difficult to treat and is often characterized by either exaggerated responses to painful stimuli or pain resulting from stimuli that would not normally provoke pain . In other words, our bodies go into hyperdrive with all guns firing only theyre shooting pain signals instead of blanks.
Looking for nerve pain relief? Read on to find ways to reduce your discomfort.
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Treating The Pain Of Phn
Exactly how best to deal with the pain is a difficult question. Rice led a research team that looked at 35 clinical trials of various treatments. The findings appear in the July issue of the free-access online journal PloS Medicine.
“The most important thing to realize is these are painkillers,” Rice says. “You are treating the pain, not the disease itself. And this is due to permanent nerve damage. It is like a stroke. We can’t make the nerve damage better, but we can treat the disability. And for PHN, pain is one of those disabilities.”
What helps? Rice’s team found good evidence supporting:
What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Shingles
Most people get shingles once, but its possible to get it again.
If you have a healthy immune system, the blisters tend to clear in 7 to 10 days. The rash tends to go away completely within 2 to 4 weeks. The pain may last longer, but usually stops in 1 or 2 months.
For some people, the pain will last longer than the rash. When it does, its called postherpetic neuralgia , which can come and go or be constant. PHN can last for months, years, or the rest of your life. Treatment can help reduce the amount of pain you feel.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you continue to have pain. Treatment can help you feel more comfortable.
For anyone who has a shingles rash, the right self-care can help ease your discomfort. Youll find out what dermatologists recommend at, Shingles: Self-care.
ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . About shingles. Page last reviewed 10/17/2017. Last accessed 4/1/2019.
Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.
Madkan V, Sra K, et al. Human herpes viruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008: 1204-8.
Straus SE, Oxman MN. Varicella and herpes zoster. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1885-98.
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Antidepressants May Offer Surprising Relief
Antidepressants may have been invented for depression, but they are also known to modulate peripheral nerves, Dr. Auwaerter says, thereby dulling PHN pain. Your physician may suggest Pamelor or Aventyl or Elavil . Dr. Auwaerter adds that these medications can sometimes cause side effects like fatigue and sluggishnessthough PHN patients usually only need a low dose, which is unlikely to cause major adverse effects.
Help Is Available For Phn
Fortunately,early treatment for shingles can lower your chances of getting PHN.
For some people, the pain becomes refractory, or resistant to treatment, explains Dr. Rosenquist. So we want to treat shingles as fast as we can ideally as soon as somebody feels a tingling or burning sensation, even before a rash develops.
Sheadds that whenever nerve pain is involved, some people respond to treatment andsome dont.
However,medications taken orally or injected that can target the affected nerves may beable to stun the nervous system into behaving properly. That meanstransmitting the appropriate signal to the brain.
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Soak In A Colloidal Oatmeal Bath
This DYI option hasnt been tested for shingles specifically but experts say it may provide some skin relief while your rash is still acting up. Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding oats into a fine powder . A study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that this natural remedy has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can make it helpful in treating irritated skin. Add colloidal oatmeal to a bath of cool or lukewarm water and soak for about 10 minutes, once per day, for as long as your rash lasts.
What Increases The Risk Of Long
The risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia increases with age. Four weeks after getting shingles,
- 27% of 55- to 59-year-olds and
- 73% of over 70-year-olds had nerve pain.
Women seem to be more likely to have longer-lasting nerve pain than men. Post-herpetic neuralgia is also more likely to develop if your eyes were affected by shingles.
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Try Antivirals For Early Intervention
Let’s focus on the painful rash first before diving into nerve pain. If you can treat shingles at the first sign of a rash, antiviral drugs can help mitigate the spread of the virus. They most effective if used earlybest within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, Dr. Auwaerter says. The three antivirals used to treat shingles are Famvir , Valtrex , and Zovirax , and they need to be taken several times per day until your rash subsides. While they dont treat pain, per se, they can help prevent your rash from getting worse .
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Shingles
A dermatologist can often diagnose shingles by looking at the rash on your skin.
If there is any question about whether you have shingles, your dermatologist will scrape a bit of fluid from a blister. This will be sent to a lab where a doctor will look at the fluid under a high-powered microscope.
When you have shingles, the fluid contains the virus that causes shingles. Seeing the virus confirms that you have shingles.
Your dermatologist will also ask about your symptoms. Shingles tends to be painful.
When the shingles rash spreads to an eye, it can affect your eyesight
You can reduce this risk by seeing an ophthalmologist immediately.
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Why Your Mental Health Matters
Living with chronic pain is not easy. Not knowing how long the pain will persist is also stressful. Chronic and unpredictable pain can be hard on your emotional and mental health.11
Depression, anxiety, emotional distress, fearthese are responses to events in our lives that can change the way we daily live.
Along with interfering with daily functioning, people with PHN often report feeling isolated. Sleep, which is essential to good mental health, is also a major problem for many people with PHN.
It is important to recognize the emotional and mental impact of PHN, and understand that feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are not unusual to experience when living with a chronic and unpredictable condition.
If you can gain some control over your response to your symptoms, that can help reduce the stress of chronic pain. There are many things you can do to help yourself as described below.
You may also want to seek professional help if you are experiencing emotions or thoughts that are too difficult to manage by yourself. Getting help is another way of helping yourself, and should be considered as just one more part of your self-care program.
There are a number of things you can do to take care of yourself to help you manage the symptoms of PHN, including the mental and emotional challenges discussed above. Many of these self-care strategies are the same ones that help with overall physical and mental health. These include:
Dab Calendula Oil To Ease Itching And Promote Healing
Calendula or marigold is known for its healing properties. Homeopathy recommends the use of calendula oil or gel to relieve itching and encourage healing of blisters caused by chickenpox and shingles.8 Calendula has anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to quicken wound healing as well as improve the texture of skin. Flavonoids present in this herb are thought to be responsible for this effect.9
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How Can Acupuncture Help Shingles Pain
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific parts of the body known as acupuncture points. The professional who performs this technique is called an acupuncturist. Acupuncturists use single use needles and follow the Clean Needle Technique.
When your acupuncturist inserts the needles, you may feel a tingling sensation. If you experience unbearable pain, let them know.
After inserting the needles, your acupuncturist activates them through electrical stimulation or by gently moving them with their hands, or they may not stimulate them at all. Theyll leave the needles in your skin for up to 30 minutes. This process helps your body to release its own naturally occurring painkillers.
Youll undergo this treatment depending on the severity of your case and how your body responds. Treatment may be necessary daily or weekly.
shows that acupuncture can ease pain in conditions such as migraine and back pain. Various studies have been conducted to see whether acupuncture can also treat shingles pain.
In 2011, a showed that acupuncture could be used for the treatment of shingles pain, or acute herpetic pain. Acupuncture may also improve quality of life and reduce anxiety in people with shingles.
More recently, researchers found that adding acupuncture to traditional antiviral therapy in three key phases of shingles:
- the pain before the blisters appeared
- the time it took for the blisters to scab over
- the time it took for blisters to stop forming
How Do Dermatologists Treat Shingles
An antiviral medication can:
Reduce the amount of time that you have a shingles rash
Lower your risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other health problems
One of three antiviral medications is usually prescribedacyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.
To treat your symptoms, dermatologists typically recommend the following:
Pain: Medication that you can buy without a prescription can help, such as:
If you have severe pain, your dermatologist may prescribe a medication that reduces inflammation, such as a corticosteroid.
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Natural Remedies For Shingles
If you had chickenpox as a child, the shingles virus lies dormant in your body. The virus can reactivate later in life and cause a shingles rash. The rash can occur on any part of your body but typically only affects small sections.
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. The rash and fluid-filled blisters form within a couple of days after the onset of pain. Some people with shingles also have a fever, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime.
The shingles virus can last between two and six weeks. Shingles isnt life-threatening, but some people experience postherpetic neuralgia. This is when nerve fibers become damaged, causing shingles pain that lasts for weeks or months after the rash clears.
Theres no cure for shingles, but your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the virus and reduce symptoms.
Although an antiviral is an effective treatment for shingles, its not the only option. Several natural remedies may also reduce pain and discomfort.
Dry your body completely and then wash your towel to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- orange and yellow fruits
Natural Remedies For Shingles To Prevent A Recurrence
Here are five effective natural remedies for shingles to help prevent a recurrence of an outbreak:
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How Postherpetic Neuralgia Is Diagnosed
To diagnose PHN, your doctor will ask you questions about the type, duration, and source of your pain symptoms and give you a physical examination to assess evidence of skin scarring and areas of your body that may display pain sensitivity.8
In some rare cases, laboratory tests may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis. Viral cultures or immunofluorescent staining may be done to distinguish the type of herpes you have, antibody testing may help support a diagnosis of subclinical herpes zoster infection, and tests like immunoperoxidase staining, histopathology, and Tzanck smear may be used to confirm a herpes zoster infection.9
According to the National Shingles Foundation, if you suspect that you may have developed PHN, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. You may be referred to a specialist, such as a neurologist, pain specialist, or anesthesiologist, who has experience with PHN.10
Spinal Cord Or Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
These devices offer a safe, efficient, and effective way to relieve many types of neuropathic pain conditions. Similar to TENS, they are implanted under the skin along the course of peripheral nerves. Before implantation, doctors do a trial run using a thin wire electrode to determine patient response.
The spinal cord stimulator is inserted through the skin into the epidural space over the spinal cord. The peripheral nerve stimulator is placed under the skin above a peripheral nerve. As soon as the electrodes are in place, they are switched on to administer a weak electrical current to the nerve.
Experts believe that by stimulating the non-painful sensory pathway, the electrical impulses trick the brain into turning off or turning down the painful signals, resulting in pain relief.
Symptoms are usually limited to the area of skin where the shingles outbreak first occurred and may include:
- occasional sharp burning, shooting, jabbing pain
- constant burning, throbbing, or aching pain
- extreme sensitivity to touch
- extreme sensitivity to temperature change
In rare cases, if the nerve also controls muscle movement, there may be muscle weakness or paralysis.
Symptoms may make it hard to carry out some daily activities, such as bathing or dressing. PHN may also cause fatigue and sleeping difficulties.
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