Shingles Treatment

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Doctor's View on Shingles Treatment

Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The pain of shingles can be severe and sometimes even occurs when no rash is present. Postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of shingles, occurs when your nerve pain persists after your rash has disappeared. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options to help reduce your pain.

Antiviral medications

Antiviral medications are prescription drugs that can reduce the length and severity of your outbreak if they are given early enough. Examples of these drugs include acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir). It has been shown that antiviral medications can help prevent the development of postherpetic neuralgia and reduce its duration if it does occur.

Other treatments

Medications for pain relief may be required. These may be either over the counter or prescription drugs, depending on the severity of the pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help some people, while others may require narcotic pain medications. Nonmedical treatments for shingles and home remedies include the use of cool compresses to relieve pain and anti-itching lotions like calamine lotion. Aluminum acetate solutions can help dry up the blisters. Additionally, different medications have been used to control the pain of postherpetic neuralgia, including tricyclic antidepressants and antiseizure medications. Topical agents that can help relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia include capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches.

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Janniger, Camila K. "Herpes Zoster Treatment and Management." Feb. 26, 2013. <>.

Last Editorial Review: 7/17/2013 1:09:47 PM