Shingles and Pregnancy (cont.)

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Pain medication to treat shingles

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Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, can also be used for pain relief, although these will not affect the progression of the blisters and rash. Pregnant women should discuss any pain relief medications with their health care professional. Pregnant women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.) late in the pregnancy.

Antihistamine medication to treat shingles

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can help reduce any associated itching. Other home remedies for itching include oatmeal baths and calamine lotion. Many women find that applying cool cloths or compresses provides relief as well. Keeping the affected areas covered with clean gauze and wearing loose clothing can help speed healing and prevent secondary infection of the affected skin.

What are the complications of shingles in pregnancy?

Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles. This condition develops in about 20% of people who have shingles and is characterized by persistent pain at the affected site after the rash has disappeared. It goes away by 4 months after the initial rash in most people. This complication is less common in pregnant women since it rarely occurs in people under 40 years of age. Postherpetic neuralgia is more common in people over 60 who do not receive treatment for shingles.

Shingles that affects the eye is another uncommon condition. It is essential to see a doctor if you develop shingles around the eye area. In very rare cases, the virus can spread to the brain and membranes around the central nervous system. Other potential complications include hearing or balance problems and weakness of the muscles on one side of the face, known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome. All of these complications, like postherpetic neuralgia, are more common in older adults and affect pregnant women less commonly.

Sometimes, secondary bacterial infections develop at the site of the rash. These can be treated with antibiotics, and antibiotics can be chosen that are safe for use in pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/20/2014

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Shingles and Pregnancy - Symptoms and Diagnosis Question: Please describe the symptoms that led to a diagnosis of shingles while you were pregnant.
Shingles and Pregnancy - Treatment Question: How did you treat shingles pain and itching during your pregnancy?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Prevention Question: How did you prevent the risk of shingles during your pregnancy?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with shingles during pregnancy.
Shingles and Pregnancy - Antiviral Medication Question: If you were prescribed antiviral medication for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Pain Medication Question: If you were prescribed pain medication for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Antihistamines Question: If you were prescribed antihistamines for shingles during pregnancy, what was prescribed and how effective were they?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Complications Question: What complications did you experience with shingles during pregnancy?