Do you remember how bad chickenpox was back in the day? If yes, then you should be more wary of shingles or herpes zoster which is due to the same virus that causes chickenpox. This article discusses everything you need to learn about shingles, including natural treatment for shingles.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection of a nerve area which is characterized by pain and rashes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nearly one out of three people in the United States will develop this condition. In the United Kingdom, the incidence of shingles is estimated to be at 700 to 800 cases per 100,000 people annually.
Usually, shingles can only happen once in your lifetime. But there have been cases wherein a person suffers from a second, and even a third episode of shingles.
Compared to chickenpox, shingles is not as contagious. The risk of a person inflicted with shingles spreading the disease is very low especially if the rash is covered. Additionally, the person with shingles is not infectious until the blisters appear.
What Causes Shingles?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
The said virus would remain inactive for years after you had chickenpox, only to reactivate and cause shingles later on as you get older.
Up to this day, science has not determined the cause why the virus can reactivate after years of being dormant in the body. The belief, however, is that the virus can be reactivated by stress and an immune system that weakens with age.
As such, age is one risk factor of shingles. It is estimated that half of shingles cases in the United States happen in men and women who are above 60 years old. But this does not mean that only adults can have shingles; as even children who have had chickenpox may get sick with this ailment.
People who suffer from medical conditions that affect their immune systems like cancer types such as leukemia and lymphoma are also more likely to get shingles. The risk of shingles is also high for people who take medicines and steroids that affect the immune system, like immunosuppressive drugs given after an organ transplantation.
Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
At the onset of shingles, you may experience flu-like symptoms such as chills, and stomach ache but you won’t have fever. You may also experience headaches and sensitivity to light.
Several days later, you would then feel pain in a small strip of rash. This strip or area of rash may also be itchy or have a tingling sensation.
The rash may appear anywhere on your body, but usually it would only affect one side of your body. The rash may appear at the back, or in the chest. It may also occur on the face, neck, belly, or one arm or leg.
At first, the rash will form blisters before scabbing over. Eventually, it would clear up after a couple of weeks. However, some of the scars may remain.
Pain is also too intense that most of those who have experienced it describe it as like needles being pierced in the skin.
Is Shingles Curable?
There is no cure for shingles. While there are no natural cures for shingles, there are ways to shorten the length of the ailment and prevent complications.
Treatment options like pain medicines, antidepressants and topical creams may relieve the pain and discomfort caused by shingles. These medications may also shorten the duration of the ailment.
Medical Treatment for Shingles
Doctors usually prescribe antiviral medicines like acyclovir and famciclovir to prevent the virus from multiplying. Although these antiviral medications won’t be able to kill the virus that causes shingles, it can minimize the severity of the illness and reduce the length of the ailment.
In some cases, the antiviral medications may also prevent complications of shingles like eye problems and skin infections. Antiviral medications for shingles are most effective when they are taken up to three days after the rashes become noticeable.
Painkilling medication may also be prescribed by physicians to relieve the pain caused by the shingles. Some of the medications that are often prescribed for pain caused by shingles are Paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and opiods.
Antidepressants, while mainly prescribed for treatment of depression, may be effective as well in relieving nerve pain. The same goes for anticonvulsants which are mainly for the treatment of seizures but can also aid in relieving nerve pain. The most commonly prescribed anticonvulsants for relief of shingles pain are Gabapentin and pregabalin.
While these medications may have some success in controlling pain associated with shingles, there are side effects that may arise from the use of these drugs.
For example, antiviral medicines taken for shingles may result to vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
Anticonvulsants prescribed for shingles pain may cause weight gain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and drowsiness.
Homeopathic Treatment for Shingles
Aside from these medications, there are other ways to control the symptoms of shingles. Homeopathic treatment for shingles involves home remedies that can help in relieving the pain caused by the ailment.
Soaking in cool water is a shingles homeopathic treatment that many experts suggest. Cool water should help in easing the pain and discomfort brought about by shingles particularly on the rash. Simply soak the affected area in the water for a few minutes, and then completely dry the skin.
One word of caution though—make sure to have someone wash the towel you used thoroughly since open blisters can come into contact with it, and may lead to spreading of the varicella zoster virus.
Shingles home treatment may also involve the use of a cold compress, which can ease the pain and irritation caused by the shingles. Don’t use an ice pack, however. Instead, soak a towel or cloth in a tub filled with cool water. Then squeeze the water out of the towel before applying the compress to the rash for several minutes.
It is important to take good care of the skin sores. The blisters should never be picked at or scratched. Just let the blisters crust over and fall off. The skin sores may also heal more quickly if they are applied with cornstarch or baking soda.
Another alternative would be Burow’s solution, or aluminum acetate solution which can be bought at pharmacies. Apply this solution to the blisters so it would be kept dry all the time.
Another home remedy for shingles would be mixing half a cup of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water, and then using it to moisten the sores. Or you can mix aloe vera, honey and leek juice and apply this blend to the sores.
Aloe vera may also be mixed with coconut oil which is known for its soothing qualities. Mix a spoonful of coconut oil with half a spoon of cayenne pepper and half a spoon of aloe vera. Apply the concoction to the infected area using a cotton ball. This mixture is said to be effective in relieving pain to the sores.
Herbs are also said to be effective in treating shingles.
Lemon balm, for instance, contains antiviral substances like flavonoids and rosmarinic acid. It can control the pain caused by shingles, and applying it directly on the rash can make shingles heal quicker.
Garlic can also be counted upon to treat shingles. The herb popular for its many therapeutic properties has anti-viral qualities that can make it effective in relieving pain due to shingles. The use of garlic extract twice a week as well as adding extra garlic cloves to your food may help in alleviating pain.
Like garlic, licorice has antiviral properties that make it useful in treating shingles. You may apply licorice ointment to the rash, or drink licorice tea. Or you can apply the licorice tea directly to the rash thrice a day.
St. John’s wort is also believed to be effective in treating shingles. It is an antidepressant that can reduce nerve pain and prevent the virus from spreading.
Products that contain capsaicin are also considered as a potent home treatment for shingles. Capsaicin is the substance that makes chili peppers hot. It is also widely used in weight loss supplements for its ability to speed up the metabolic process.
Capsaicin has been found effective in relieving pain caused by shingles by lessening substance P which is found at the nerve endings. This substance also plays a role in the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Capsaicin for shingles may come in various forms like lotion, gel, patch, ointment, liquid and stick. Capsaicin cream for shingles is also readily available in many drugstores.
Rest is also very important for a person with shingles. In case you get this ailment, make sure that you avoid any type of work. Stay in bed so that you’ll get the rest you need to improve your immune system, and that your body would be able to fight off the viral attack.
Although none of these shingles treatment at home will cure shingles, you would likely be able to tolerate the pain and discomfort brought by the ailment.
What is the Best Natural Treatment for Shingles?
This is a topical treatment for shingles that utilizes multiple ingredients proven to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of shingles such as pain, swelling, itchy skin, redness, and severe swelling.
It is safe to use on the face and body, although it should not be applied to the eyes. It’s gentle to the skin that it can even be used by children who are over two years of age.
For best results, this shingles natural treatment can be applied directly on the rash two to six times a day. It’s an over-the-counter medication, meaning it can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription.
To further understand how this shingles natural treatment gel works in relieving the symptoms of shingles, let’s look at its various ingredients.
It contains Hypericum, more popularly known as St. John’s wort, which is effective in treating the tingling sensation felt on the rash. As mentioned earlier, St. John’s wort is an antidepressant that has been clinically proven to alter the brain chemistry and improve mood.
As a homeopathic remedy, St. John’s wort is used in treating nerve injuries. It’s not surprising that Hypericum is used for treatment of first and second degree burns, spinal irritation, and puncture wounds. It is also gentle on sensitive skin.
Salicylicum acidum, or salicylicum ac, is another important ingredient of this natural shingles treatment. It relieves the burning pain that can cause a lot of discomfort on a shingles patient. It is derived from spiræa blossoms.
Ruta is a homeopathic ingredient that is great for shingles relief, particularly on the pain induced by the ailment. Derived from the herb Ruta Graveolens that is native in the Balkan region, ruta has long been used for its medicinal purposes. As an ingredient of this cream for shingles, it alleviates the pain felt in the area of the rash.
Colocynthis, meanwhile, is the ingredient that can control headaches felt by people who have shingles. It comes from a tiny plant that grows in the Mediterranean region.
While there are numerous natural remedies for shingles that are said to be effective in relieving pain, tingling sensation and swelling caused by the ailment, Painazol may just have the most number of potent ingredients for shingles treatment. Aside from its potent ingredients, this product is very easy to use and cheap as well. It is not surprising that some quarters dub it the best natural treatment for shingles in the market today.