Shingles - Treatment

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What was the treatment for your shingles?

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What is the treatment for shingles?

The treatment for shingles is aimed at diminishing the effects of the virus, as well as pain management. There are several medications that can be used, and your doctor will discuss the best treatment options for your particular situation. The vast majority of cases of shingles can be managed at home. In some cases, people with an impaired immune system or individuals with severe symptoms and/or complications may require hospital admission.

Antiviral medications (medications used to combat viral infections) are used against the varicella zoster virus. These medications help shorten the course of the illness and decrease the severity of the illness. They may also help prevent the potential complications sometimes encountered with shingles. They are most effective when started within 72 hours of the first appearance of the rash. There are several antiviral medications that can be used, including acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). In certain situations, intravenous (IV) antiviral medication may need to be administered.

Pain medication can be used to help relieve discomfort caused by the rash, which can sometimes be severe. For some individuals with mild pain, over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) may be all that is needed. Individuals with more severe pain may require stronger opioid pain medication.

Over-the-counter antihistamine medication such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help alleviate the localized itching.

The use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, is controversial in the treatment of shingles.

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Comment from: Effie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 20

I'm 56 years old. I talked to my doctor last year, and she gave me the shingles vaccine. Just last week, I came down with shingles for the first time ever. I was so surprised at the diagnosis, because the pain was nowhere near as bad as I had always heard or read about. Apparently, about 50% of people who have the vaccine can still get shingles, but with the vaccine, the pain is greatly reduced, the duration is much shorter, and the postherpetic pain is also greatly reduced. My doctor also started me on Valtrex within 48 hours of my first blister. Within 24 hours of starting the Valtrex, the pain and swelling were going away, and I didn't get any more blisters. I think the vaccine is just wonderful, and I'm so glad I had it. I think I'll give my doctor a big hug when I go in for my follow-up.

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Comment from: cheryl, 65-74 Female (Caregiver) Published: December 19

I fell backward on the front porch on Monday, immediately my back and left rib pain ensued. Ibuprofen 600mg at mealtimes did not help. On Wednesday I went to the family doctor where x-rays were taken and Norco given. Thursday night pain worsened, with it starting at waistband center back and circled to umbilicus. By Sunday I went to the emergency room as I was now showing signs of the lesions. I had had herpes zoster in 1990, space of involvement and pain were much less. Today I went again to the primary care physician for change of medications: prednisone, acyclovir and nortriptyline were given. Hopefully tonight I will get some pain free sleep.

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