Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. This virus is hard to remove and can remain in your nervous tissue for a long time, even after successfully treating chickenpox.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of people in the United States are reported to have it every year. And 30% of people will suffer from shingles in their lifetime. The vast majority of them are older people over the age of 60.
Usually, shingles occur when the virus becomes triggered again. In addition, the varicella-zoster virus can also result in chickenpox and cold sores. Luckily, getting vaccinated and following good hygiene practices can help reduce your risk of developing shingles. If you experience any symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.
Common Symptoms of Shingles
The most common symptom of shingles is red, itchy, and painful rashes, which are smallpox marks that often occur on the buttocks, lower back, neck, cheeks, trunk, or face. It can also spread anywhere on your body.
The rashes come in patches, and this makes the rashes highly noticeable. When the rashes become blisters filled with fluid, you may feel extremely itchy and painful. The rashes may disappear completely within 5-6 weeks. Other common symptoms include fatigue, body pain, fever, headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to light.
How long does it take for shingles to go away?
According to statistics, the blisters of shingles are usually crusted within 7 to 10 days and then clear entirely after 3 to 5 weeks. You may initially feel burning or tingling pain accompanied by numbness or itching. Then after 1 to 5 days, the burning feeling will go away, but a red rash may appear on the skin.
Common causes of shingles
Common causes of shingles include:
- Age: As people age, their immune systems weaken, making them more susceptible to the virus.
- Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and make a person more likely to develop shingles.
- Illness: Certain illnesses, such as HIV or cancer, can weaken the immune system and make someone more likely to develop shingles.
- Medication: Certain medications, such as steroids and certain chemotherapy drugs, can weaken the immune system and make someone more likely to develop shingles.
- Weakened Immune System: A weakened immune system can make someone more likely to develop shingles. This can be caused by several things, such as chronic illness, HIV, diabetes, or certain medications.
- Family History: People with a family history of shingles are more likely to develop the condition.
- Exposure: People exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles may be more likely to develop the condition.
6 Scientific Research-backed Treatments for Shingles
1. Antiviral medications
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, antiviral medications are effective in reducing the severity and duration of shingles.
The review analyzed 18 randomized controlled trials and found that antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, were effective in reducing pain and the duration of the shingles rash. (Source)
- Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if antiviral medication is necessary for your shingles.
- If prescribed, take the medication exactly as directed, usually for a period of 7-10 days.
- Common antiviral medications used for shingles include acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.
2. Pain medications
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that combination therapy with an antiviral medication and pain medication (prednisone) was more effective in reducing pain and discomfort associated with shingles than antiviral medication alone. (Source)
- Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if pain medication is necessary for your shingles.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be taken as directed for pain relief.
- In more severe cases, prescription pain medication may be necessary.
3. Topical creams
- Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if a topical cream containing capsaicin or lidocaine is appropriate for your shingles.
- Apply the cream to the affected area as directed, usually up to four times per day.
- Wash hands thoroughly after application to avoid accidental contact with eyes or other sensitive areas.
4. Calamine lotion
There is limited scientific research on the effectiveness of calamine lotion for shingles specifically, but a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that calamine lotion was effective in reducing itching associated with other skin conditions. (Source)
- Apply calamine lotion to the affected area as needed for relief of itching and irritation.
- Reapply as needed throughout the day.
- Avoid contact with eyes or other sensitive areas.
5. Cool compresses
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that cool compresses were effective in reducing pain associated with shingles. (Source)
- Soak a clean cloth or towel in cool water.
- Apply the compress to the affected area for up to 20 minutes at a time.
- Repeat as needed throughout the day.
The shingles vaccine, which is recommended for adults over the age of 50, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing shingles by over 50%.
A randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the vaccine reduced the incidence of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia, a common complication of shingles. (Source)
- Consult with a healthcare provider to determine if the shingles vaccine is appropriate for you.
- Receive the vaccine as recommended, usually as a two-dose series.
- The vaccine is recommended for adults over the age of 50 to reduce the risk of developing shingles.
Top 10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Shingles Fast
Are you aware that oatmeal can easily remove your shingles? Oatmeal has soothing and anti-irritant properties that can help relieve pain, irritation, and constant itching accompanied by shingles.
- Add 2 cups of oatmeal powder to the tub filled with lukewarm water.
- Soak yourself in the water for 15-30 minutes.
- You can do this every day before you go to bed.
- Mix one tablespoon of finely powdered oatmeal with plenty of water to make a paste.
- Apply this paste to your affected area, dry it, and wash it off with warm water.
- You can do this 2-3 times daily for 1-2 weeks.
Aloe Vera is an effective solution for treating shingles and shingles scars. It has antiviral and antifungal properties that can cool and soothe the infected skin area to remove the irritation, itching, and burning sensation. It can also help improve the healing process.
- Extract Aloe Vera gel from a fresh Aloe Vera leaf.
- Apply the fresh Aloe Vera gel to the areas and rub gently following a circular motion.
- Massage the Aloe Vera on the area and wait for it to dry for a few minutes.
- Rinse off after half an hour with cold water.
- You can do this 2 – 3 times daily to get a good result soon.
Honey is not only tasty but also useful for the treatment of shingles. It has antibacterial and wound-healing properties, which can help naturally remove the pain and irritation of blisters. It can also soothe the skin and eliminate the shingle’s scars.
- Place honey on a clean cloth or bandage, then put it on your infected area.
- Make sure that you will cover all of the areas quite well.
- Keep it there for as long as you can.
- If the honey dries up, you must replace it with fresh honey every few hours.
- Do these processes until your condition is better.
You can also add honey to your diet, which can help improve your immune system for faster recovery. One tablespoon of raw honey daily is enough.
The great thing about green tea is that many people like it a lot. Some people take it before going to work in the morning. If you have never taken green tea before, you have to know that this can be very effective in getting rid of shingles because of its antiviral properties. It can help kill the virus-causing shingles, which will eventually make them go away.
- Make sure you include green tea when you wake up in the morning.
- You are recommended to drink green tea about four times a day so that it can heal you from the inside.
Garlic is one of the most effective solutions for many skin infections, such as shingles. It has antiviral properties that can help kill bacterial viruses, parasites, and fungi that cause shingles. It also helps heal the shingles and remove the itch and pain.
- Get five cloves of garlic and mash it until you get a paste.
- Place the garlic paste on the area afflicted with shingles.
- Leave on the skin for about 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave it longer because this might burn your skin.
- Wash off with warm water.
- Do this 1-2 times a day for 1-2 weeks.
- You can also eat 3-4 cloves of raw garlic daily to get a better result.
You may be surprised to see acetone here since you may probably know acetone as something that you can use to get rid of shingles because it can dry off the skin and kill the virus at the same time.
- Place the acetone on a clean cotton ball.
- Place it on the skin affected by shingles.
- Leave the acetone on the shingles for about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Wash off thoroughly with water.
Coconut oil has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help eliminate shingle scars soon.
- Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a pot.
- Apply the warm oil on the affected area of the skin and cover the area with gauze.
- Reapply the coconut oil every 3 hours.
- You can do this daily for about a week or until the shingles disappear.
- You can also add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil to your daily diet, which helps your skin heal quickly.
Sea salt has antiseptic properties that can be very helpful in soothing the itchy feeling of shingles. It can also help dry the blisters and increase the healing process.
- Mix one tablespoon of sea salt with ½ cup of plain water.
- Soak a cotton ball in the water and place it on your affected area.
- You can repeat this process 1-2 times daily for one week.
- You can add 1 cup of sea salt to the bathwater and soak yourself in for 30-40 minutes daily for a better result.
Cold water may be the simplest way to remove shingles at home. It can help remove irritation and itching. Also, it can help relieve the pain due to blisters.
- Prepare a pot of cold water and soak a towel in the water.
- Wring out the excess water and place it on your affected areas for 20-30 minutes.
- You can repeat this process until your pain subsides.
You can also try a cold water bath. Prepare cold water and soak yourself for a few minutes. This can help you relieve the shingle’s pain. Do not use ice packs or too cold water, which may hurt your skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective way to get rid of shingles. It is a natural antiviral and disinfectant. It has antimicrobial and astringent properties that can help dry out sores, relieve itching, and improve your recovery process.
- Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of pure water.
- Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to the affected skin area.
- Wait 10-20 minutes until it dries, and wash it off with water.
Do this 2-3 times a day until your problems go away.
Add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey to a cup of hot water. Then, drink this thrice daily after meals for 1-2 weeks.
How to Prevent Shingles in future?
1. Get Adequate Rest
Getting enough rest is essential for helping the body heal and fight off the virus that causes shingles. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help your body fight off the virus that causes shingles.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise can help boost your immune system and help fight off the virus that causes shingles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
4. Reduce Stress
Stress can weaken the immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off the virus that causes shingles. Try to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercising, meditation, and yoga.
5. Manage Pain
Shingles can cause pain, which can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Talk to your doctor to find the best medication for your symptoms.
6. Avoid Triggers
Certain things can trigger shingles, such as stress, fatigue, and exposure to sunlight. Avoiding these triggers can help reduce the likelihood of an outbreak.
7. Get Vaccinated
The best way to prevent shingles is to get the shingles vaccine. It’s available for people 50 and older and is covered by most insurance plans.
8. Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands regularly and keep your skin clean, as this can help reduce your risk of getting shingles.
9. Avoid Contact With People Who Have Shingles
If you know someone who has shingles, avoid contact with them until their rash is gone. This can help prevent you from contracting the virus.
Are shingles contagious?
Shingles are not as contagious as highly contagious chickenpox. Chickenpox can be inherited from the baby in its early months. However, shingles are contagious too. You’d better avoid exposing your virus to others.
Before treatment, you must understand that shingles are viral infections that can not be treated with antibiotics. Antiviral medication usually treats only rashes on the skin. However, with some natural home remedies, you can remove the shingles and shingles pain. Here are the top 10 home remedies to get rid of shingles fast.
When to see a doctor?
It is important to contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A burning, stabbing, or tingling sensation on one side of the body
- A red rash that forms a band or a strip
- Blisters that eventually form scabs
- Pain, itching, or tingling in areas of the skin that are not accompanied by a rash
- If you have a rash that does not heal after several weeks
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible. They can diagnose and provide treatment to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent complications.