If You Have Been Diagnosed With Shingles

If you have Shingles, here are some things that might help.

There is no cure for Shingles. The Shingles rash usually lasts up to 30 days. Some treatments may help bring some temporary relief to the pain and itch of the rash. Here are some ways to try to stay as comfortable as possible with Shingles, however, these treatments provide only some relief and may not be effective for everyone.

  • Cool wet compresses may also help reduce pain. Soothing baths and lotions, such as an oatmeal bath, starch bath, or calamine lotion, may help relieve itching and discomfort.

  • Bathing daily and keeping your fingernails clean and trimmed can help prevent bacterial infections and damage to the skin that scratching may cause.

  • Keeping the affected area of skin exposed to the air may help the rash heal more quickly.

  • Over-the-counter topical local steroids applied to the skin can provide some relief to patients suffering from the pain or itch that may occur during or after Shingles. Antihistamines can also be taken to help reduce itching.

Your health care professional may prescribe pain medications or anti-inflammatories to help reduce the pain of the Shingles rash.

Situations to avoid if you have Shingles.

You cannot get Shingles from someone who has the disease. However, the virus that causes Shingles is the same virus that causes chickenpox. So, someone who has never had chickenpox could get chickenpox from a person with Shingles if he or she comes into direct contact with the Shingles rash when the blisters have not yet crusted. So it's very important to stay away from newborns, people who have problems with their immune system, and people who haven't had chickenpox, especially if you have Shingles blisters that have not yet crusted. Your health care professional can tell you about other situations you may need to avoid if you have Shingles.

Be aware of the possible complications of Shingles.

Shingles can sometimes lead to serious complications. About 1 in 5 people end up with postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN. This is long-term nerve pain that may develop after the Shingles rash heals, and it can last for months, or even years. The pain may be sharp or throbbing, and may hurt beyond the area of the original rash.

While antivirals given in the early stages of Shingles can help reduce the risk of developing PHN, they cannot cure Shingles. PHN symptoms can only be treated with other prescription medications.

Get more important facts so you can talk to your health care professional about your risk.