Some of the most effective home remedies for shingles include the use of cold packs, oatmeal baths, cold baths, and extensive rest. Furthermore, you can apply anti-inflammatory gels, local anesthetic creams, lotion, and capsaicin, as well as behavioral adjustments, such as scratching at the blisters or wearing clothes that won’t irritate the blisters.
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What is Shingles?
Shingles are an extremely irritating and contagious form of herpes called herpes zoster. It is actually a remnant of chickenpox, and the varicella zoster virus that causes that typically childhood condition. When the chickenpox passes, that virus remains in your body and can manifest years later as shingles. The virus tends to affect small sections of the body, and the rash can last for 2-4 weeks. There are many treatments that are recommended, but as with chickenpox, you often simply have to “wait it out”. However, shingles can be more dangerous than chickenpox because the large blisters are prone to infection, particularly if they are opened. Each year, there are 1-3 cases per 1,000 people, and while that number seems small, it is a very uncomfortable and unsightly condition, so any relief is appreciated.
While there is a shingles vaccine, it is not as widely applied as other vaccines, so cases still crop up every year. Another common solution is antiviral drug therapy, which can reduce the duration of shingles to as little as a week. However, while there is not an immediate cure or a perfect solution to this virus, there are certain things you can do at home to lessen the severity of the condition, and make your term of illness slightly more comfortable. Some of the most popular and effective home remedies are explained in greater detail below.
Home Remedies for Shingles
While this may not seem logical, given that spicy foods are often considered as “inflammatory”, but the capsaicin found in various types of peppers is a very important anti-inflammatory substance that can considerably numb the pain of shingles and reduce discomfort. You can use peppers in their normal form as food, or in pepper pastes or creams that can be topically applied to the spot of your shingles.
Reducing your movement, particularly unusual bending and twisting that affects the area where your shingles are located, can help the blisters shrink and become less inflamed. Excessive use of those parts of the body will irritate the blistered area and will extend the healing process.
Applying a col, wet towel or compress to the location of the shingles is one of the most effective and simplest remedies for shingles. While this certainly doesn’t cure the virus, it does allow that portion of your skin to get some relief and will temporarily numb the area, particularly if the water is cold enough. This could be done on a large scale by taking a very cold bath; it might not be comfortable, but it will make your shingles feel better!
For a bit more of a functional solution, try an oatmeal bath. This tried and true method is one of the most popular remedy for chickenpox, which is where shingles comes from, so it only makes sense that the same therapeutic effects of an oatmeal bath would help shingles patients as well.
Although there are some body lotions and creams that could irritate the shingles, the generally soothing nature of skin lotion can be a major improvement over the inflamed and raw areas where shingles manifest on your body. Apply lotion 2-3 times per day if you want to reduce healing and recovery time.
There are various herbal and organic anti-inflammatory gels that can quite literally “suck the heat” from an inflamed area of the body. Aloe vera gel is very intense, but a small amount of it can provide quick and thorough relief from the irritation and pain of shingles.
Although it is very tempting, be sure not to scratch at the blistered regions of your skin. This will not only make the healing process much slower and more uncomfortable, but it will also make you vulnerable to secondary infection from the open wounds. Resist the temptation to scratch and you’ll heal much faster!
Choose Your Clothes Carefully
There are many comfortable fabrics and just as many uncomfortable ones. Try to wear clothes that are soft and soothing to the skin, not rough or ragged that will pull on the blistering skin or causing them to open. Natural fiber fabrics are the best option for ensuring a comfortable wardrobe when you’re dealing with shingles.