Shingles: Treatment and Condition

“Shingles” treatment

“Shingles” treatment

Shingles treatment with prescription antiviral drugs can speed healing and reduce your risk of complications.

 Acyclovir (Zovirax)
 Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
 Famciclovir (Famvir)

Shingles can cause severe pain, so your doctor may prescribe:

 Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)
 Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
 Numbing agents such as lidocaine on cream, gel, spray or skin patch
 Medications that contain narcotics such as codeine.

Read more about the symptoms of shingles.

Ongoing treatment

If you have pain that persists longer than a month after your shingles rash heals your doctor may proceed diagnosing postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common complication of shingles. The PHN can cause pain for months or years. It will affects 10 to 15 people out of 100 people who have had shingles.

Treatment to reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia includes:

 Antidepressant medicines such as a tricyclic antidepressant (for example, amitriptyline).

 Topical anesthetics that include benzocaine which are available over-the-counter forms that you can apply directly to the skin for pain relief. Lidocaine patches such as Lidoderm are available only by prescription.

 Anticonvulsant medicines such as gabapentin or pregabalin.
Opioids, such as codeine.

Topical creams containing capsaicin may provide some relief from pain. There are also a high-dose skin patch available by prescription (Qutenza) for postherpetic neuralgia. Capsaicin can irritate or burn the skin of some people and it should used with caution.

Read more about the is “shingles” contagious?

Treatment when the condition gets worse

In some cases, shingles causes long-term complications. Treatment depends on a specific complication.

 Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is persistent pain that lasts months or even years after the shingles rash heals. Certain medicines such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants and opioids, can relieve pain. Most cases of PHN can resolve within a year.

 Disseminated zoster is a blistery rash over a large portion of the body. It can affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, joints and intestinal tract. Treatment can include both antiviral medicines to prevent the virus from multiplying and antibiotics to stop infection.

 Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is a rash on the forehead, cheek, nose and around one eye which could threaten your sight. You should seek treatment from an ophthalmologist for this condition. Treatment may include rest, cool compresses and antiviral medicines.

 If the shingles virus affects the nerves originating in the brain (cranial nerves), serious complications involving the face, eyes, nose and brain can occur. Treatment depends on the nature and location of the complication.

Shingles Look Like

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