What is Shingles?
This condition is an infection resulting from the varicella-zoster virus, which is also the main cause of chickenpox. Once the individual recovers from chickenpox, this virus can survive in the nervous system for several years. Sometimes, the virus reactivates as shingles, which is also called herpes zoster. This viral infection causes a red rash on the skin resulting in burning and pain.
A stripe of blisters will start forming on just one side of the body. It usually appears on the face, neck, or torso. Most people recover within two to three weeks. The same individual does not usually encounter this virus more than once. Of every three people in the United States, only one will contract this virus during their lifetime.
Although there is currently no cure for shingles, a quick treatment using prescription antiviral medications can decrease the risk of complications while enhancing the healing process. This type of medication must be taken within 72 hours after symptoms appear.
Scratching often results in prolonged blisters and rash. Shingles creams and lotions might not enhance the healing process, but they usually improve comfort and decrease irritation. Even the best creams for shingles should be used sparingly as additional irritation can occur if the application is too heavy. This might lengthen the healing process as the cream may prevent the sores from drying out properly.
The best cream for shingles may contain capsaicin to increase its effectiveness. This is a natural ingredient found in chili peppers, requiring between three to four applications daily. Pain is often relieved due to the anti-inflammatory effect. When the cream is first applied, the pain may temporarily increase, gradually receding as time goes by.
The cream is effective because pain signals received by the brain are effectively decreased. Calamine lotion can also be used to help dry out blisters and soothing irritated skin after a bath or shower.
Calming the Rash
The most important task would be relieving the pain and itching caused by the rash. An oatmeal bath in a tub filled with cold water can be helpful. Colloidal oatmeal is recommended because the oats are ground into an extremely fine powder. This type of bath can help to calm down the itching sensation.
Another option is to create a cold compress by placing a washcloth beneath the sink faucet and soaking it with cold water. The cloth is then put directly on the blisters for approximately 20 minutes. Using a cold compress several times a day can decrease itching while ensuring the blisters remain clean. This will help prevent skin infections. Once the blisters stop oozing, stop the cold compress. Do not use compresses at the same time as shingles creams.
An application of calamine lotion on the skin provides a soothing, cooling, and smooth effect. Although rubbing calamine lotion on the skin can be effective, rubbing in antibiotics may have an opposite effect because the blisters will usually require additional time to heal.
Wear Loose Clothing
Tight clothing will irritate the rash. Loose clothing manufactured with natural fibers such as linen and cotton will not scratch and is considerably more comfortable. Clothing with a relaxed fit is the best option. Should bandages be used for covering the blisters, any type with the potential to stick to the skin should be avoided.
Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies
The combination of conventional therapy and homeopathic remedies can be effective in treating the symptoms. Homeopathy is considered an alternative option to enable the body to heal by itself. At this time, very little scientific evidence is available to support this option for any ailment or condition. For this reason, speaking to a physician before attempting any homeopathic type of treatment is recommended.
Some many herbal medications and supplements may help your body to fight off the virus. However, this may result in anxiety and insomnia. A physician should be consulted before using any herbal medications or supplements. Ensuring the correct diagnosis has been made is extremely important. Should the symptoms worsen, immediate medical care will be necessary. These supplements include:
- Oregano oil
- Lemon balm
- St. John’s Wort
- Essential fatty acids
The Impact of Nutritional Foods on the Mind
Shingles often increase stress while weighing heavily on the mind due to the constant pain. It is important to care for the emotional state in addition to the symptoms. The body must work much harder than normal to fight off the virus. Supporting the body with good habits can make a difference. Eating regular meals made from nutritious ingredients is critical in supporting the body.
Should one not be able to visit the grocery store, asking a friend or neighbor for help is always a good idea. Purchasing and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables provides the body with essential nutrients. Rest whenever possible, and try to get the best possible sleep at night. Gentle exercises, including stretching and walking, can also help because a light activity can be a good distraction from the pain. Before trying anything new, consult with a physician.
The symptoms of the virus will generally worsen if the immune system is weakened. Making diet changes can enhance bodily functions and boost the immune system, while also helping to stop the virus from spreading to other areas of the body. Steps should be taken to boost the immune system by consuming or avoiding specific foods. The diet recommended for the virus includes foods containing vitamins C, B-12, A, C, and lysine. These types of foods include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains
- Yellow and orange fruits
- Wild-caught fish
- Red meat
As the body starts healing to handle the effects of the virus, comfort foods are often craved. Eating these types of foods can result in a weakening of the immune system again. This can prolong the course of the virus. Consuming foods rich in arginine may result in the virus reproducing. Anyone with this virus needs to avoid foods containing:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Juices and foods with a high sugar content
- Foods containing a lot of saturated fat
- Foods rich in arginine including nuts, gelatin and chocolate