If a shingles infection has reactivated, here are some helpful tips on recurring shingles treatment. Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash. In most cases, shingles results in a band of blisters on one side of the trunk-, usually extending from the middle of the back to the chest and breastbone.
Sometimes shingles erupts on the face and the rash appears as small bumps around the nose and eyes. Men with shingles on the face should quickly seek medical attention, as shingles can damage the cornea and potentially cause vision loss.
Cause of Recurring Shingles
Varicella zoster (also called herpes zoster)—the same virus that causes chickenpox—causes shingles. After a child has the chickenpox, the virus may remain inactive in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord or brain. Years later, the virus can come back as shingles in adulthood.
As anyone with shingles can attest, the infection is very painful. Vaccines can reduce the risk of shingles and early treatment can shorten the infection and lessen complications. Here are four common treatments for recurring shingles.
Treatment for Recurring Shingles
Antiviral Medications. Doctors usually prescribe antiviral drugs to treat recurring shingles. These oral medications include drugs such as acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir. They are most effective when started within three days of a shingles rash appearance.
Pain Medications. Because shingles is such a painful infection, doctors usually prescribe pain medication. Oxycodone, a narcotic drug, is one option. Other medications include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Numbing agents, such as lidocaine, can help sooth the rash. They come in a variety of forms: cream, gel, spray and skin patch.
Over-the-Counter Medications. Over-the-counter medications are also used to treat recurring shingles. Ibuprofen and naproxen are effective pain relievers. Calamine lotion and anti-itch creams can soothe a shingles rash. Some men include oral antihistamines, like diphenhydramine, in their recurring shingles treatment.
Home Remedies. Recurring shingles can also benefit from a number of home remedies and lifestyle choices. Cool baths, wet compresses, soothing music and relaxation techniques help ease the pain of shingles. Plenty of rest is key.