Taking Charge of Your Health

5 Home Remedies for Shingles. Anyone who had chickenpox as a kid remembers
the red, painfully itchy blister-like rash, and perhaps the fever and fatigue that came
along with it. But even though it’s true you’re now inoculated
against chickenpox for life, there’s one pox-related complication you may not have considered:
Shingles. Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox
virus (varicella-zoster virus, or VZV), and causes a painful, itchy rash in one place
on the body. Shingles often begins as pain and itching
in the skin before a red rash appears one to two days later, with small, water-filled
blisters. These blisters soon rupture and scar over,
healing and fading over the course of a few weeks. This process can be extremely uncomfortable
and painful, making even the littlest actions difficult. Luckily, there are home remedies for shingles
that can make you feel better while you heal. Watch this video to learn how to soothe pain
and discomfort at home. But first, if you think you may have shingles,
head to your doctor immediately, especially if it’s on your face or near your eyes (this
can cause lasting damage to your eyes). Your doctor may prescribe you oral anti-viral
medication, which you’ll take for seven to 10 days, says Lindsay C. Strowd, MD, assistant
professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Your doc might also prescribe oral or topical
meds to help with the pain. While shingles isn’t super contagious to
your average, healthy person, it can pose a risk for pregnant woman, elderly people,
and those with compromised immune systems, so avoid contact with these people until your
rash has scabbed over (it’s usually spread through the blister fluid) and keep it covered
with a bandage, says Dr. Strowd. Here’s how to minimize discomfort and pain
with stuff you probably already have at home: Cool compresses. “The skin can feel extremely sensitive to
even the lightest touch. Keeping it cool with the use of cool compresses
may help,” says Dr. Strowd. If your rash feels too sensitive for a direct
cool compress, try applying a moist cotton towel to the area for 5 to 10 minutes several
times a day (think refrigerator temperature, not freezer temperature), says Dr. Strowd. Also, avoid contact with any open blisters,
says Lauren Eckert Ploch, MD, an Augusta, Georgia-based dermatologist. Vaseline. “Covering the rash with a thin layer of
Vaseline and then a large cotton bandage will protect the skin from clothing or other irritations,”
says Dr. Strowd. This will also help keep you from touching
the area and spreading the infection, says Dr. Ploch. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline after washing
once daily and cover with a non-stick bandage. You can also use other petroleum or dimethicone
products, Dr. Ploch says, but avoid using lotions or other topical OTC medications that
contain fragrance as this could be irritating to the skin. Aim for plain, non-irritating products for
sensitive skin. Stick to loose, cotton clothes. To fight itch, “wear loose fitting clothes
with soft natural fibers such as cotton or linen,” says Dr. Strowd. “These will be more comfortable than tight
synthetic fabrics or wool clothing garments.” Oatmeal or baking soda baths. These can provide temporary relief for itching
and can be soothing, say Dr. Strowd. Look for colloidal (or ground) oatmeal to
add to cool bath water, or add baking soda. Both can help calm itching and are gentle
on skin. Calamine lotion. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends
this lotion for shingles relief. It’s gentle and can help keep itching to
a minimum. Apply once your blisters have scabbed over,
says Dr. Ploch.

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