Doctors often prescribe use of antiviral drugs and anti-inflammatory medications that have proved beneficial to ease the discomfort and get rid of infection as early as possible.
Herpes zoster that typically causes shingles, is a viral infection and usually seen in people who have crossed 50. Shingles, as we all know is a red itchy rash made up of fluid filled blisters. The area where the rash develops causes painful, burning sensation. The viral infection can also affect the nerves that pass through the skin. Usually, the area around the spinal cord and the abdominal section are the most common sites of herpes zoster rash that forms a long streak like pattern.
The primary aim of this treatment is to speed up healing as well prevent complications in shingles, commonly referred to as postherpetic neuralgia. Long-lasting throbbing nerve pain even after the rash has vanished is the hallmark of postherpetic neuralgia. In this condition, the nerve fibers are damaged and hence, even touching the skin can cause severe pain. So, to avoid all these complications as well as shorten the time span of infection, following are the treatment methods that are usually undertaken:
Shingles being a viral infection, doctors often prescribe antiviral medicines. Antiviral drugs are designed to destroy the viruses, which helps to minimize the duration of infection. They are listed below:
- Famvir (Famciclovir)
- Valtrex (Valacyclovir)
- Zovirax (Acyclovir)
These antiviral agents are most effective when they are administered at the earliest. This antiviral treatment won’t work if the medications are given a week after the herpes symptoms appear. As soon as the symptoms (rash) are visible, the antiviral course should start within 3 days, otherwise any delay would not help to relieve the discomfort.
As shingles is typically accompanied by moderate to severe pain at the site of rash formation, doctors also recommend certain painkillers (analgesics) and numbing agents. They are discussed below:
This is a topical medication that helps to numb the area, which in turn reduces the pain and the burning sensation associated with shingles. This pain-killing drug also comes in the form of topical patch, spray and gel, which is equally effective to decrease the pain.
Being an analgesic, oxycodone is extremely effective to reduce moderate to severe pain. People who experience acute pain arising from shingles have experienced substantial relief after taking oxycodone orally.
Persistent itchy sensation that accompanies herpes zoster rash can be reduced considerably with anti-itching lotions like calamine lotion. Exposure to the sun should also be avoided to minimize irritation. Topical medicines like extra strength Zostrix HP cream may be prescribed to manage and even avoid post herpetic neuralgia pain.
Nerve pain that occurs in patients affected with shingles can be successfully treated with anticonvulsants like gabapentin. Postherpetic neuralgia patients also respond quite well to gabapentin.
Usually, the viral infection does not last for more than a month but if the pain continues to harass the patient, it is an indication of postherpetic neuralgia. On the whole, taking the treatment at the right time under the guidance of a qualified doctor will ensure that shingles will heal within a few weeks without causing any complications.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.