Treatment for Shingles

As with other herpes viruses, there is no cure for shingles however, finding an effective treatment for shingles can reduce the length of the illness and reduce the symptoms.

Treatment options include:

  • Antiviral medicines to reduce the pain and duration of shingles.
  • Pain medicines, antidepressants, and topical creams to relieve long-term pain.

As soon as you are diagnosed with shingles, your healthcare provider will probably begin treatment with antiviral medicines. If medicines are started within the first 2 days of recognizable shingles rash, you may decrease the chance of having problems later. Early treatment of shingles is important, because the problems that can result can be serious and resistant to treatment. For example, as many as 50% of people with postherpetic neuralgia do not respond to treatment.

The most common treatments for shingles include:

  • Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir, to reduce the pain and the duration of shingles outbreak.
  • Over-the-counter shingles treatments often include acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen, to help reduce pain during an attack of shingles as well as other alternative treatments as linked to above.
  • Topical antibiotics, applied directly to the skin, to prevent blisters from becoming infected.

Corticosteroids also may be used to reduce pain in people younger than 50 who have had a recent outbreak of shingles.

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