How to Fight Against Shingles

Shingles also known as herpes zostrer. Shingles is a same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can cause several problems with the eye and surrounding skin that may have long term effects. Inflammation and scarring of the cornea, along with conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) and iritis (inflammation of the iris) are typical problems. Shingles manifests as a vesicular rash, usually in a single dermatome. Development of the rash may be preceded by paresthesias or pain along the involved dermatome. Ocular involvement and zoster keratitis may result if reactivation occurs along the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve. Approximately 95% of adults in the United States have antibodies to the varicella-zoster virus.

Cover shingles lesions with a clean cloth or loose-fitting gauze after cleansing. Trim fingernails to reduce the chance of bacterial infection from scratching.

Treatment with famciclovir (Famvir) may significantly reduce pain and hasten recovery from an acute attack. Topical creams containing capsaicin may provide some relief from pain. Cover shingles lesions with a clean cloth or loose-fitting gauze after cleansing. Avoid contact with the skin lesions of persons with known herpes zoster infection. Cool wet compresses can be used to reduce pain. Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or lotions and calamine lotion, may help to relieve itching and discomfort.

Have the person with shingles see the doctor as soon as the shingles rash appears. Treatment within 2 or 3 days of the shingles outbreak may shorten the duration of postherpetic neuralgia.

Apply cool compresses over the zoster lesions or take a cool bath twice a day. Avoid exposure to warm and hot water because this could lead to further itching.

The affected area should be kept clean. Bathing is permitted, and the area can be cleansed with soap and water. Cool compresses and anti-itching lotions, such as calamine lotion, may also provide relief. An aluminum acetate solution (Burow’s or Domeboro solution, available at your pharmacy) can be used to help dry up the blisters and oozing.

As soon as you are diagnosed with shingles, your doctor probably will start treatment with antiviral medicines. If you begin medicines within the first 2 days of seeing the shingles rash, you have a lower chance of having later problems, such as postherpetic neuralgia. Early treatment of shingles is important, because the problems that can arise can be serious and resistant to treatment. For example, 40% to 50% of people with postherpetic neuralgia do not respond to treatment.

The best treatment for shingles is rapid medical treatment. The sooner a person sees a doctor after the first suspicion of shingles, the better off he or she will be. Antiviral drugs are very helpful in reducing the severity and duration of the outbreak, but they must be started within 48 hours of the rash appearing, ideally in less than 24. Otherwise, they are of small benefit. However, the person treated in the first 24 hours after the rash’s appearance will usually have a much lighter outbreak, with few, if any complications, and much less chance of experiencing PHN.

The first coat of finish is best applied before shingles are installed so that the back, butt-end, and face of each shingle are thoroughly coated. The finish may be applied by dipping the shingles to at least two-thirds their length, then standing them vertically until the finish has dried. An alternative to dipping is to apply the finish by brushing, rolling, or spraying. Dipping is the most effective method and brushing is the next best. If a light colored finish has been applied, the butt-end and edge of the shingle will eventually discolor as a result of leaching of water-soluble extractives from the wood.