Health experts estimate that 50 percent of people who live to be 80 will have an attack of the herpes zoster virus, which you probably know as shingles. The virus, a version of the one that gave you chickenpox as a child, hides in your body, sometimes for 50 years or more, until something provokes it. Experts say a weak immune system, an illness, or even stress can activate it.
An onset of shingles starts with chills, fever, and a prickly feeling within the nerve corridors of the body. The feeling ultimately becomes a fiery, intense pain. And if that’s not enough suffering for you, coming soon is the break-out of a bubbling, irritating rash. This rash will be reminiscent of the rash you may have had with childhood chickenpox.
After several days, the lesions form a scab, but reminders of the attack can last anywhere from 7 days to six weeks. The virus is transmissible during the blistering phase. But once the rash has crusted over, you cannot spread it.
You can anticipate blisters somewhere on your midsection, but they appear on the shoulders, arms or face in some cases. Getting the rash near your eyes or ears can sometimes damage your sight or hearing. Consult your doctor if this happens to you.
Although there isn’t a cure for this painful virus yet, researchers hope the immunization for chickenpox might spare future generations from this outbreak. In the meantime, you can get relief from the misery of shingles with the following remedies.
Climb into your tub
Pour one to two cups of finely ground (colloidal) oatmeal in a tub of warm water and soak for 20 minutes. Or try one-half to one cup of baking soda or a cup of cornstarch. These skin treatments can help with the itching.
Dry it up
Remember calamine lotion? Your mom probably swabbed it on your poison ivy. Dab it on your blisters for relief. Some people prefer aloe vera gel, apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
Although the itching may be unbearable, try not to scratch. If you break open a blister, you could spread the rash even more. Keep your nails trimmed, and if you think you might scratch in your sleep, wear a pair of lightweight cotton gloves to bed.
Take care of your mouth
Gargle with saltwater if you develop sores in your mouth. Eat soft, bland foods until they heal, and brush your teeth carefully with a child-size toothbrush.
Temper itching with temperature
Use warm or cool compresses, whichever feels most soothing on the sores. Moisten them first for best results.
Dodge that draft
Stay away from cold air blowing from an air conditioner or an open window. Shivering can make your skin feel more sensitive.
Keep it uncovered
Your blisters will heal faster if you leave them unbandaged. That’s because circulating air helps them dry out faster.
If you lay on the couch all day, you will feel sick. In addition, blankets and the weight of your body can irritate your rash. Keep your hands busy with a project, like playing a game of solitaire or straightening out a closet. Soon your mind will be off your discomfort, if only for a few minutes at a time.
Dress for shingles success
Avoid bandages that could stick to your rash. The same goes for your clothes. Opt for loose-fitting garb that won’t rub and scratch your skin. Clothes made of natural fibers like cotton and linen will give you the most comfort.
Make your own treatment ointment for shingles
Combine ground aspirin with petroleum jelly for a pain-relieving cream. Apply it to the affected area three times a day. Spreading the ointment may smart a bit, but the reprieve from the pain will be worth it. Alternatively, one can try EMUAID® First Aid Ointment for an even quicker route to shingles pain relief. Many satisfied customers of the product have left glowing EmuaidMAX reviews.
If the itching and pain of shingles is too much for you, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help. Just remember, shingles will eventually clear up like any other virus, and soon you’ll be back to your old self.