What is the Right Shingles Medication?

Anyone who has had chicken pox may later also have shingles. This disease however may need some other kind of treatment that is different from chicken pox medication. Given below are some types of shingles medication.

Consulting with Your Doctor

Although shingles do disappear on their own after a couple of weeks, it is important to immediately seek medical attention once you experience shingles symptoms. Shingles medication given by a doctor can help reduce the discomforts that accompany shingles and prevent complications. A doctor too would be able to give you the right combination and dosage of medications in consideration of your age and severity of condition.

Antiviral Shingles Medication

The first type of shingles medication that most doctors prescribe for shingles patients is antiviral medication. This is because shingles is caused by a virus and an antiviral can help prevent the development or increase of the virus. Antiviral medications also speed up the healing of shingles blisters and help ease pain. Experts say that antiviral medication should be given within 3 days of the first signs of shingles for best results. It is also believed that prompt and early medication can help limit the possibility of a patient developing post herpetic   neuralgia  or PHN. PHN is a condition in which pain persists for a long time after the shingles rashes have healed.

All patients with shingles may benefit from antiviral shingles medication. Early antiviral treatment however may be especially helpful for the elderly and those with severe cases of shingles. In some cases, antiviral medication may result in headaches as a side effect.

Corticosteriods Shingles Medication

Sometimes doctors may also prescribe corticosteroids in addition to antiviral shingles medication. Just like antiviral medicines, corticosteroids also work best when give early. Some doctors however recommend that corticosteroids only be given to patients who are more than 50 years old or those who have shingles on the face and are in extreme pain. This type of shingles medication can reduce pain, decrease itchiness and limit swelling.

The problem with the use of corticosteroids as shingles medication is that it might result in a number of side effects headache, stomach upset, moodiness, thirstiness, insomnia and increase in weight. Corticosteriods have also been known to make shingles rashes appear worse. The worst possible side effects of using this medication for a long time include meningitis, osteoporosis and cataract.

Other Medication

Your doctor might also additionally allow the use of over the counter anti inflammatory pain medication to help relieve pain further. Antibiotic ointments are also recommended to prevent infections that originate from shingles blisters.

Post Herpetic  Neuralgia  (PHN)

In rare cases, shingles patients may develop PHN, in which case a different set of medications is required. Medical treatment for PHN includes tricyclic antidepressants, nerve blockers, opioids, anticonvulsants and topical pain relievers.

Antidepressants in particular have become a common mode of treatment for PHN. Low doses of certain antidepressants have been observed to relieve pain. Further studies however are still required to understand exactly how antidepressants help with PHN.