Herpes zoster, popularly known as Shingles, is a rash which manifests in the form of very painful vesicles or blisters and is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox (varicella-zoster). The blisters that appear often follow the path of the nerves of the body that have been affected by the virus, and among the most prominent symptoms are intense pain, itching and burning in the infected area and general discomfort. It is essential to treat infection as soon as the first symptoms appear to prevent it from getting worse, so in this OneHowTo article we tell you how to treat herpes zoster.
Although initially the patient may only feel ill and present a slight fever, a few days later herpes zoster manifests itself on the body and blisters appear, usually in the thoracic or lumbar area, grouped in several kinds of rows.
The shingles rash is quite peculiar, so the medical diagnosis is relatively simple. Examining the rash, the doctor can determine what it is and recommend the most suitable treatment for your case. On rare occasions, tests are necessary but these only consist of taking a skin sample to be analysed in a laboratory and definitively identify the varicella-zoster virus.
Note that herpes zoster virus can not be eliminated from the body by a specific treatment, but it is important that the physician prescribes you certain drugs that help alleviate and reduce symptoms of the infection. Thus, recovery will be faster and much less painful.
Normally to treat herpes zoster, the doctor may prescribe an antiviral which is an effective way to fight the virus, alleviate the pain of this condition and to prevent it from worsening and shorten the period of recovery. The most common cures for shingles antiviral drugs are acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These are drugs that are usually administered orally as a pill.
In very specific cases, such as HIV positive patients and those with a very weak immune system, these antiviral drugs may not be effective. Therefore, it is probably necessary to administer the drug intravenously and the patient will require hospitalization.
There are quite strong anti-inflammatory medicines called corticosteroids which also may be prescribed by the doctor and that work to reduce inflammation, relieving pain causing blisters and accelerating the healing of shingles.
Other medications that your doctor may recommend to treat shingles are analgesics to soothe pain, antihistamines to decrease itching or specific creams indicated to reduce the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia, a permanent or intermittent pain that remains in the area affected by shingles once infection has disappeared.
In addition to drugs, to treat herpes zoster faster, it is important to keep the blisters and the surrounding area cleaned and dried, do not apply creams or cosmetics on to the area of infection and avoid wearing tight clothes.
If you want to complement the medical treatment with some natural solutions to help you overcome shingles, see our article How to cure shingles with home remedies.
This article is merely informative, OneHowTo does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Treat Herpes Zoster, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.
- Apply compresses with cold water on the affected area for several minutes each day