Shingles is a result of the same viral infection—known as varicella zoster—that causes chickenpox. Only people who have had chickenpox can develop shingles as the virus remains dormant in the body for a long time before reactivating in the form of shingles.
The hallmark symptom of shingles is a distinct, painful rash that appears on one side of the body. If you believe you may have shingles, consult with your primary physician immediately.
Once your physician reaches a diagnosis of shingles definitively, he or she will likely prescribe you an antiviral medication to get the infection under control, accelerate the recovery process, reduce inflammation, and alleviate your symptoms.
Shingles Medicine Options
Antiviral medications are used to impede the progression of the rash that is brought on by shingles. These medications are especially effective when taken in the window of 72 hours of exhibiting a rash for the first time. Antiviral medications also reduce the risk of further complications that can be caused by the viral infection.
The most commonly prescribed antiviral medications are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. Make sure to learn about the potential side effects that come with these drugs by having a discussion with your pharmacist or primary physician.
As shingles result in inflammation and painful symptoms, your physician may recommend you use non-prescription pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease your discomfort and pain.
If your pain persists even after your rash improves or if you get an infection during your flare-up, your physician may also recommend the use of the following medicines:
Capsaicin cream. Capsaicin is a substance found in chili peppers with medicinal properties. This ingredient is commonly found in ointments and lotions that are formulated to relieve pain.
Antibiotics. In cases where a rash turns into a bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe you antibiotics.
Antidepressants. Certain types of antidepressants may be used to relieve the pain that sticks around even after your rash has improved. The most common antidepressants prescribed to patients in such cases include Norpramin and Pamelor.
A Final Note
Make sure you keep your rash dry and clean to prevent infections. The itching that a shingles rash causes can become intolerable, but avoid scratching the affected area at all costs as this may worsen the rash.
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