Shingles is a painful skin condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. It can cause a rash and blisters on the body or face, as well as intense pain. It can also cause fever, headaches, and sensitivity to light.
While shingles is more common in older adults, anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles at any age. Fortunately, the condition is not life-threatening, but it can interrupt your daily life significantly. There are treatments available to help reduce shingles symptoms and prevent complications.
Let’s talk more about shingles treatment and how you can lower your risk of getting this health condition.
The duration of shingles is usually anywhere from two to four weeks. During this time, the focus of treatment is to reduce the duration of the condition, manage its symptoms, and let it run its course.
Treatment for shingles typically involves antiviral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir). These drugs work best when started within 72 hours of symptom onset and can help reduce the severity and duration of an outbreak. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be recommended to manage discomfort associated with shingles outbreaks. Additionally, topical creams containing capsaicin may be prescribed to relieve nerve pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia – a complication that occurs after a bout with shingles in some people. Home treatments such as cool compresses may help soothe the itching and pain from shingles blisters.
If you are wondering what you can do to prevent shingles, the answer is to get a vaccine for it. Experts recommend those over the age of 50 to receive a shingles vaccine. The two vaccines to choose from are the Zoster vaccine live (ZVL, Zostavax) and the Recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix). Your primary care provider will recommend which vaccine is right for you. This is currently the best method available to lower the chances of getting shingles.
Since vaccines only lower your chances of getting this viral infection, below are some things you can do to further reduce the likelihood you’ll get shingles:
- Avoid contact with people who have active cases of chickenpox or shingles
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water and avoiding touching your face
- Get enough restful sleep every night
- Eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce stress levels; learn relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation
- Talk with your primary care provider about additional preventive measures you can take according to your individual health needs
If you are concerned about your risk of getting shingles, talk to your primary care provider.
Shingles Treatment and Prevention at Intimate Health Medicine
Show Low Family Clinic is here to help with shingles treatment and prevention. Your health concerns are our priority, and we listen to you fully and with great compassion. Sharon Zell, our primary care provider, is a certified family nurse practitioner licensed to practice in Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. She can determine the best approach to take to manage your shingles symptoms and prevent complications.
At Show Low Family Clinic, we are committed to your health and wellness. We build lasting relationships with our patients, which is how healthcare should be. Call us today at (541) 315-8338 to arrange your visit, or request your appointment online.