With its angry red blisters and unbearable pain, shingle can scare anyone. And here’s why we should all be concerned – estimates suggest that 1 out of 3 Americans will develop it during their life.1 This common illness is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. After you get chickenpox, the virus remains in your body and resurfaces, usually years later, to cause shingles. Although this disease is typically seen in people over the age of 50, anyone who has had chickenpox can get it. It may develop even in children.
The good news is that you cannot get shingles from someone who has it. But an affected person can pass on the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox. This person would then get chickenpox rather than shingles. When you get shingles, you might initially experience a shooting or burning pain and itching or a tingling sensation on one side of your body. This is followed by the development of blisters or rashes.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for shingles though it does tend to get better in around 2 to 4 weeks. Antiviral medications that can reduce the intensity of your symptoms, as well as the risk of complications, are available. Your doctor may also recommend a vaccine that can prevent its occurrence or reduce its effects. Meanwhile, there are various natural remedies that can help you deal with the symptoms of this condition.2 3:
“Do see a doctor if shingles develops on the face because it could affect your hearing or vision.”
1. Apply A Neem Leaf Poultice To Heal The Rash
Neem leaves have antiviral properties and act against the varicella zoster virus. 4 Applying a poultice of neem leaves to the rashes can help heal your skin. Alternatively, soaking a few neem leaves in your bath water can also be useful.5
2. Use An Apple Cider Vinegar Compress To Dry Up Blisters
Apple cider vinegar has been traditionally used for tackling rashes caused by shingles and chickenpox. Apply a compress of apple cider vinegar diluted with an equal quantity of warm water; or add 2 to 4 cups of apple cider vinegar to a tub of warm bath water and enjoy a long soak. The acidity of vinegar can help quicken the drying of blisters and ease itching. However, this remedy is not recommended on broken skin or open blisters.6 7
3. Dab Calendula Oil To Ease Itching And Promote Healing
Calendula or marigold is known for its healing properties. Homeopathy recommends the use of calendula oil or gel to relieve itching and encourage healing of blisters caused by chickenpox and shingles.8 Calendula has anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to quicken wound healing as well as improve the texture of skin. Flavonoids present in this herb are thought to be responsible for this effect.9
4. Take An Oatmeal Bath To Relieve Itching
Oats are widely known for their anti-itching property. You can add ground oats to bath water and settle in for a soak to relieve your itchy rash. Finely ground oats turns into a gooey mass when mixed with water. This coats your skin, soothing your skin and relieving itching. This calming property of oats is attributed to its gluten content.10
5. Apply Capsaicin Ointment For Pain Relief
Capsaicin, a component found in red pepper, can ease the pain caused by shingles. This compound depletes a neurotransmitter called substance P. which helps transmit pain signals to your brain.
Ointments with capsaicin are available in the market. You can also mix a pinch of powdered red pepper with plain skin ointment to make one at home. However, do keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to use capsaicin ointments on broken skin. Also, application of the ointment can cause burning and itching the first few times. Do a patch test before using to ensure your skin doesn’t react adversely to it.11 12
6. Slather On Antiviral Honey To Soothe Rash
Here’s a sweet remedy for your painful shingles rash! Studies indicate that honey has antiviral properties and can act against the varicella zoster virus. It’s also known to be soothing to the skin.13 So go ahead and dab a little honey on the blistered skin to promote healing.
7. Use Fuller’s Earth To Dry Up Blisters
Apply a poultice of fuller’s earth to help blisters dry and to ease pain. To make the poultice, mix fuller’s earth with water to make a thick paste. Spread a finger-width worth thick paste on a clean cloth and cover with gauze. Now apply this on your rash twice a day for relief.14
8. Apply A Baking Soda Solution To Relieve Irritated Skin
Another common remedy for itching that’s easily available at home is baking soda. Add a little baking soda to a glass of water and apply the solution to relieve irritated skin. You can also try adding some baking soda to your bath water.15 Although it’s not clear how exactly baking soda works, its alkaline nature is supposed to be at work here.
9. Have A Chamomile Bath To Ease Itching
Chamomile and calamine lotion are time-tested remedies that help relieve itching. You can add anti-inflammatory chamomile to your bathwater to soothe your skin. 16 Dabbing a little calamine lotion on affected areas and letting it dry on your skin can also tackle that maddening itch.17
10. Apply A Licorice Gel Or Tea For Pain And Inflammation
Licorice has traditionally been used topically to treat shingles and ease the pain that lasts even after the blisters disappear. So how does licorice work? Glycyrrhizin, an active component found in this herb, has been found to stop varicella zoster from replicating. You can apply licorice gel a couple of times a day for relief.18 19 You can also boil the herb in water to make a strong tea and apply that on the blisters.
|↑1||Shingles(Herpes Zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Shingles. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||Shingles. National Health Service.|
|↑4||Krishnan, Y. U. V. A. N. E. S. W. A. R. A. N., and N. K. Wong. “Cytotoxicity and Antimicrobial properties of neem (Azadirachta indica) Leaf extracts.” Internal Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2, no. 7 (2015).|
|↑5||Conrick, John. Neem: The ultimate herb. Lotus Press, 2001.|
|↑6, ↑8, ↑16||Zand, Janet, Allan N. Spreen, and James B. LaValle. Smart medicine for healthier living. Penguin, 1999.|
|↑7||Brandon, Britt. Apple Cider Vinegar For Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar. Simon and Schuster,2014.|
|↑9||Calendula. University of Maryland.|
|↑10||Bedi, Monica K., and Philip D. Shenefelt. “Herbal therapy in dermatology.” Archives of dermatology 138, no. 2 (2002): 232-242.|
|↑11||Abascal, Kathy. “Herbs for Treating Herpes Zoster Infections.” ALTERNATIVE & COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES (2005).|
|↑12||Duke, James A. The green pharmacy: New discoveries in herbal remedies for common diseases and conditions from the world’s foremost authority on healing herbs. Rodale, 1997.|
|↑13||Shahzad, Aamir, and Randall J. Cohrs. “In vitro antiviral activity of honey against varicella zoster virus (VZV): a translational medicine study for potential remedy for shingles.” Translational biomedicine 3, no. 2 (2012).|
|↑14||Editors at Reader’s Digest. Home Hints and Timeless Tips: More Than 3,000 Tried-and-Trusted Techniques for Smart Housekeeping, Home Cooking, Beauty and Body Care, Natural Remedies, Home Style and Comfort, and Easy Gardening. Simon and Schuster, 2016.|
|↑15||Bakhru, H. K. Natural Home Remedies for Common Ailments. Orient Paperbacks, 1996.|
|↑17||Chickenpox. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑18||Duke, James A. The green pharmacy: New discoveries in herbal remedies for common diseases and conditions from the world’s foremost authority on healing herbs. Rodale, 1997.|
|↑19||Licorice. University of Michigan.|