If you know that shingles are caused by a virus, you might think that there’s nothing you can do about it. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections like strep throat, but when you go in with a virus – usually a cold – the doctor will send you away, saying that you should just wait it out.
However, shingles is more severe than the common cold, and your doctor does have some treatment tricks up his or her sleeve when it comes to the disease. You might take any of these medications to help with shingles.
Antiviral medications like Acyclovir and Famciclovir can help fight the virus that causes shingles. While they won’t heal you completely, they can reduce pain and lessen the length of time you will suffer from the disease. Since shingles can last from two to four weeks, these medicines can bring some much-needed relief.
Since the rash can be painful rather than itchy, the doctor might recommend or prescribe a topical treatment that is numbing to reduce the pain. Products that contain lidocaine or benzocaine can provide great relief. These typically come as a cream or spray, though the there’s a prescription-strength patch that your doctor might prescribe.
Though shingles itself is not a bacteria, the shingles sores can become infected with bacteria as they burst open. Some doctors will prescribe an antibiotic cream to apply on the rash to prevent this from happening.
Over-the-counter medications are typically enough to hold back some of the pain that’s associated with shingles. Most doctors recommend that you try something like naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), though some might prescribe prescription-strength versions of those medications. In severe cases, doctors might even prescribe pain relievers like codeine.
Though you might start to feel depressed by the length of time you have to suffer from shingles, your doctor isn’t prescribing antidepressants to help you deal with the depression. Tricyclic antidepressants are also good at relieving nerve pain, which is the type of pain you’re experiencing with shingles. These can help you get through the disease, especially when the nerve pain is lasting longer than most cases.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can treat shingles as you wait for the virus to pass through your system. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk with your doctors about what you can do to increase comfort.Advertisement