Studies have found that every 1 in 3 people has suffered from shingles during their lifetime. Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is an infection caused by a virus—specifically, the Varicella Zoster virus. This virus is also known to cause chickenpox. The indication of shingles is a painful rash.
The varicella virus continues to stay in your body after your chickenpox infection. Once it gets over the dormant state, the virus causes the shingles rash. The rash can appear on any part of your body. Usually, it occurs only in small sections.
It starts with a pain in the localized area and moves on to become a pus-filled blister in a few days. Fever, fatigue, and sensitivity to light are the commonly experienced symptoms in addition to the rash and pain.
What is the cure?
There’s no cure for shingles. Doctors prescribe antiviral drugs to alleviate the symptoms. In 2 to 4 weeks, you will be back to normal, but scarring can remain. It has been observed that if you have suffered from shingles, chances of a second episode are remote.
Once detected with shingles, it is best to head to the doctor. If left untreated, complications can arise. These include postherpetic neuralgia, disseminated zoster that can affect the heart and liver, cause cranial nerve complications, scar and discolor the skin, and result in muscle weakness in the affected area.
Although antiviral medications are recommended for the treatment of shingles, natural treatments are equally effective.
Following are some of the best shingles medication options. These help to alleviate the pain and reduce the discomfort caused due to the rash.
A cool compress offers you great relief from the pain. Dip a cloth in cool water, wring out the excess water and spread the moist cloth over the area affected by shingles. This procedure can be done many times a day.
However, avoid ice pack as the ice can increase the sensitivity of the skin.
Taking a cold-water bath helps soothe the skin. The cold water reduces the itchiness that accompanies the rashes. Furthermore, cleansing the blisters daily lowers the spread of infection. Healing baths are soothing on the skin as well. To prepare a healing bath, pour 1 to 2 cups of cornstarch or colloidal oatmeal in lukewarm water and soak in for 15 to 20 minutes. Dry yourself up completely.
Homeopathy is an alternate type of medication that helps the body to heal on its own. In fact, you can follow the homeopathic remedy in conjunction with the antiviral treatment for shingles. These remedies help to reduce itchiness and pain. Options include graphites, mezereum, Cantharis, hypericum, ranunculus bulbosus, Arsenicum album, and Rhus Toxicodendron.
It is best to consult a homeopathic practitioner before you start the treatment.
Paste of baking soda and cornstarch
Either baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or cornstarch can be used to make a paste. Take two parts of either of these and mix with 1 part of water. Apply this paste on the shingles-affected area. Rinse off after 10-15 minutes. This paste can be applied several times a day.
Soothing creams and lotions
The itchy rash can make you keep scratching throughout the day. However, scratching can lead to scarring and more soreness of the rash. The creams and lotions, though not effective in reducing the infection, can be soothing to the skin and decrease your level of discomfort. A calamine lotion can be applied after bathing on the rash.
Topical ointments containing capsaicin can be applied on the local area 3 to 4 times a day. Capsaicin has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help to ease the pain.
Diet changes to strengthen the immune system
A weak immune system can cause the spread of a shingles infection to other parts of the body. A diet that gives a boost to the immune system is very much needed. The shingles diet consists of foods that contain Vitamin A, C, E, and B12 as well as lysine, which is an amino acid.
Foods that provide these nutrients include green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, red meat, eggs, orange and yellow-colored fruits, chicken, dairy, beans, spinach, and tomato.
While the above foods strengthen the immune system, certain foods can prolong the active duration of the shingles virus. It is best to eliminate such foods from your diet. These include refined carbs, foods with high sugar content, foods brimming with saturated fats, and foods containing arginines like chocolates, gelatin, and nuts.
Herbal medicines and supplements
Insomnia and anxiety are caused due to shingles. There are some herbal medicines and supplements that can help fight shingles and treat these symptoms. These include green tea, lemon balm, oregano oil, melatonin, St, John’s Wort, and echinacea. It is in your best interest to take these supplements and medications post a doctor’s consultation.
The shingles virus runs its course from 2 to 4 weeks. Natural shingles medication does not offer a cure, but it helps to get relief from the pain and rash. When used along with prescription drugs like Acyclovir, Valtrex, Famvir, or Zovirax, the healing process is sped up.