Herpes zoster - treatment
Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is also called herpes zoster.
An outbreak of shingles usually follows the following course:
To treat shingles, your health care provider may prescribe:
You may have postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) pain. This is pain that lasts longer than a month after symptoms of shingles start.
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
Rest in bed until your fever goes down.
For pain, you can take a type of medicine called NSAIDs. You do not need a prescription for NSAIDs.
You may also take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain relief. If you have liver disease, talk with your provider before using it.
You may be given a narcotic pain reliever. Take it only as directed. These medicines can:
Call your provider if:
Dinulos JGH. Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Dinulos JGH. Habif's Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide in Diagnosis and Therapy. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 12.
Whitley RJ. Chickenpox and herpes zoster (varicella-zoster virus). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 136.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 4/9/2020
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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