Shingles is a painful condition, and a Shingles outbreak can occur to you at any time,
if you've had chickenpox in the past. Learn more about this debilitating illness, what
you can do to prevent a Shingles outbreak and treatments for easing the pain and discomfort of a Shingles outbreak.
How to Ease Shingles Pain
In most patients, the pain associated with a Shingles outbreak will begin to subside once the red rash begins to
fade. But for some patients, especially those over 70, the pain may linger for up to a year after the other outbreak
symptoms have disappeared. During a Shingles outbreak, the pain can be quite intense, but the following treatments may
bring some relief from the pain, itching and suffering associated with a Shingles outbreak:
- Yoga and other "stress reducing" exercises, can reduce the perception of pain and increase the effectiveness of
pain medications the patient may be taking.
- Meditation and other "mental relaxation" techniques will reduce stress which will contribute to pain relief.
- Some sufferers may find that hypnosis brings them some relief from Shingles pain.
- Wrapping the affected area with an elastic sports bandage (e.g., "Ace bandage") may bring some pain relief.
- Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil (i.e., NSAIDs), acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol), or Excedrin (which contains aspirin and
acetaminophen) may provide some relief from mild to moderate pain.
- A paste can be made from crushed aspirin tablets and rubbing alcohol and when applied to the rash and blistered
areas, may bring some relief from pain.
- For mild to moderate pain or itching, most patients will experience relief from an over-the-counter
analgesic, like calamine lotion, that is applied directly to the red rash and blistered areas.
- After the blisters have popped and turned to scabs, a capsaicin cream (such as Zostrix) can be applied to the affected areas
to reduce Shingles pain.
- For extreme pain, your medical practitioner may prescribe an opioid, like morphine, codeine or propoxyphene. Topical lidocaine
or prilocaine may also be prescribed by your medical practitioner for extreme Shingles pain relief.
- Your medical practitioner will usually prescribe an antiviral drug (e.g., acyclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir) which will
ease the severity and duration of a Shingles outbreak. These antiviral drugs are also quite effective in reducing the
likelihood of another Shingles outbreak.
- For older patients (i.e., over 50) there is a greater risk that a Shingles outbreak will turn into post herpetic neuralgia,
so their medical practitioner may prescribe a combined treatment of prednisone (a steroid) and aciclovir. This treatment may
also speed up the scabbing and healing phases of a Shingles outbreak, reduce the pain of the outbreak, and generally improve
the patient's comfort and quality of life during the outbreak.
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