Shingles Pain and Finding the Right Treatments

Source: WebMD

What are shingles?

Everyone suffers from chickenpox at least once in their lifetime. However, it is not necessary for one to go through this disease just once. There are many peopling who, even after having chickenpox, suffer from the rash again.

This time, however, the rash returns in a new and more painful form, called shingles. Shingles can cause excruciating pain. This condition usually lasts for (at most) a few weeks, and after a few weeks, it tends to go away.

However, some people experience the pain even after the rash has long gone. If this is the case with you, then you are most likely suffering from postherpetic neuralgia which is a type of neuropathic pain that can actually last for months and years even if the virus is not active.

What causes shingles pain?

Shingles are usually caused by an infection by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Most of the time, people catch this virus when they are kids. It starts with some itching and shivers through the rash, and you end up with a fever, and then slowly it gets better.

But since the immune system doesn't completely eradicate the virus it just ends up hiding and retreats into nerve cells that are deep under your skin and near your spine.

And for some people the virus ends up coming out of hiding, it travels along a nerve to your skin and ends up causing bumpy, painful rashes on one side of the body. These rashes are called shingles.

How to treat it?

Unfortunately, there is no such cure for shingles but you can shorten the length of the disease and can prevent further complications from occurring. You can use antiviral medication to reduce pain and to shorten its duration. Pain medicines and antidepressants may also be used along with topical creams to relieve the patient from their pain long-term.

Once you are diagnosed with shingles, your treatment will start with antiviral medicines. If these drugs are taken within the first 3 days of seeing the rashes then there are fewer chances of you ending up with postherpetic neuralgia.

Ways to treat shingles

  • Antiviral medicine
  • Over-the-counter drugs including ibuprofen, etc
  • Topical antibiotic creams

If you notice that your pain has lasted more than a month even through your rashes have healed, then you may be suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. This condition can cause pain to last for months and even years. To reduce the pain, you can use

  • Antidepressants
  • Topical anesthetics 
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Opioids
  • Topical creams and other pain medicines
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