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Cures for Shingles

Updated on August 20, 2009

Cures for Shingles

High on the list of extremely uncomfortable skin conditions is herpes zoster, more commonly known as shingles. Cures for shingles are highly sought, primarily because there is still relatively little information available as to the exact causes of shingles, due to the type of illness that it is. Shingles is actually a viral disease that is technically from the same “family” as the herpes simplex virus. The virus actually originates in children as the chickenpox virus (it seems to have many faces), and although the chickenpox phase is resolved rather quickly, the virus can (and many times does) remain latent in the body by way of nerve cells, and can be reactivated years or even decades later in the affected person. Once the virus is reactivated, it can produce a blistering rash on the skin that is extremely uncomfortable. The rash is characterized by raised blisters appearing in a “patch” or a “stripe” formation, and can sometimes look like someone has been lashed with a whip. At its onset, the rash can look similar to hives, but then once it settles in it can begin to blister and the bumps begin to be filled with small amounts of blood (the technical term for these blister formations is “serous exudates”); later they crust up and eventually fall off, but may leave obvious alterations to the skin where they once were, such as discoloration or scars, or even a change in the physical texture of the skin itself. The whole process of shingles can last anywhere between 1 week to 1 month on average. Some of the beginning symptoms of shingles include running a fever, headache, and sometimes a vague, general feeling like something’s “not quite right”, which is known as “malaise”. When the symptoms begin to intensify, the affected area can begin to be very oversensitive, and the sufferer may experience tingling sensations, numbness, or the feeling of “pins & needles”. Others have experienced more intense symptoms such as stabbing pain and an aching or throbbing feeling in the affected area.

Zoster (shingles) on the chest--Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Zoster (shingles) on the chest--Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Cures for Shingles: Prevention and Treatment

So what are some of the potential cures for shingles? Since it is at its core a viral condition, it only makes sense that some type of anti-viral treatment would be the first path to take. There are several medicines on the market that are considered “standard issue” for treating herpes zoster. Most medicines aim to limit the pain and discomfort caused by shingles, and to hopefully shorten the duration of the whole ordeal. Arguably the most popular and effective vaccine for the virus behind shingles is Zostavax, which is considered to be a preventative vaccine. On the treatment side, there are several “drugs of choice” that are propounded to be effective in the treatment of shingles, with some of the most popular ones being aciclovir, famciclovir, gabapentin and valaciclovir. These treatments have actually been utilized over and over again as shingles, although not a disease that you hear of everyday, is somewhat of a frequent occurrence still today. There have been cases of shingles appearing and being maintained on or in a small area of the body such as the inside of the nose. At any rate, you take the medicine internally and by simply following the directions (taking ALL of the medicine – this is important to ensure that the virus is completely gone) on the prescription the virus that causes the unsightly skin irritation should be gone with the outward symptoms clearing up shortly thereafter. In some more severe cases you may also be prescribed a topical ointment or cream to speed up the healing process from the outside. Shingles is said to be very painful at times so the best thing to do as stated above is take the prescribed medicine(s) and rest. The body requires plenty of rest when it is undergoing a healing so be sure to get plenty. Keep your hands washed and if necessary, skin covered to keep germs and other bacteria at bay and to prevent infection, and although recovery times will vary from person to person, the use of modern medicines such as those presented in this hub and proposed cures for shingles have helped to keep this challenging disease at bay.

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