In the event that you don’t watch the news, as it has certainly been a popular subject as of late, shingles is an infection of a nerve area caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes pain and a rash along a band of skin supplied by the affected nerve. Symptoms usually go within 2-4 weeks. Pain sometimes persists after the rash has gone, more commonly in people over the age of 50. The trick thing, however, about shingles is that the vast majority of people already have the virus, especially those over 50, who are more prone to having it flare up. How is that possible, you ask? Simple – if you have had chickenpox, then you have the potential to get shingles.
Although the news has been regularly reported on shingles and the new vaccine available to treat it, it should be understood that while you doctor can help you to control symptoms and mitigate the impact shingles can have on your life, to a large degree you are on your own. And it is for that reason that we would like to talk to you about home care and the best ways to treat your shingles symptoms.
Take Good Care of Your Skin Sores
For most shingles patients, sores and blister are a reality. However, there are some things you can do to make the experience a little less uncomfortable. First, you are going to want to avoid picking or scratching the blister. When left alone, they will naturally scab over and fall off without leaving a scar.
Sometimes though, the urge to scratch can be too much to bear. In those instances, we would suggest that you use a cool, moist compress to help ease your discomfort. Calamine lotion is also a great source of relief, just make sure you apply it after and not before the compress.
Using baking soda on your sores will help them to heal much faster than if left on their own. And when sores do crust over, soak them in water to clean then and help prevent drying out and cracking.
Take Your Medicine
If you have shingles, chances are your doctor may prescribe something for the pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, and lasts at least 30 days after the rashes have healed. It is also advisable to use nonprescription pain medicines as well such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but only if it has been cleared by your doctor.
Keep a Support System
Shingles is painful, and very often it can be quite the burden to bear for the sufferer. It is for that reason that we encourage shingles patients to keep in contact with family and friends, especially those who are willing to help you. Picking up milk from the market, filling a prescription or just keeping you company can all be invaluable aids as you go through your battle with shingles.