If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the bad news is that the same virus that gave you those uncomfortable symptoms such as red spots, blisters, fever, and headache as a youngster is still lurking in your body, poised to possibly rear its ugly head sometime later in life in the form of painful shingles. The good news is that shingles are treatable, and some of those treatments are home remedies that can bring you relief and assist you in getting healed.
What Are Shingles?
As many as a million U.S. residents, mostly middle-aged adults and older, are afflicted with shingles each year. The symptoms can include itchy or painful lesions on the torso or face, per medicalnewstoday.com. If it’s indeed shingles, this is the result of the reawakening of the virus known as herpes varicella zoster. Such reactivation can be caused by factors such as aging, trauma, stress, or even another illness. Other areas of the body in which the lesions can appear include the chest and neck, per 10faq.com.
The onset of shingles is typically accompanied by pain or a tingling sensation, commonly in one side of your body. Then it’s followed by a red rash and blisters that can persist for anywhere from a few days to several weeks, per facty.com, while webmd.com puts the duration at two to four weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per medicalnewstoday.com, has recommended that adults over the age of 50 receive a shingles vaccine as a preventative measure.
Eight Homes Remedies for Shingles
If you suspect you have shingles, go immediately to see your physician to be properly diagnosed and treated as necessary, perhaps with a prescription medicine or two. This would also be a good time to have a conversation with him or her about home remedies that you can use to alleviate your symptoms and perhaps quicken the healing process.
Following are eight home remedies that involve prevention or treatment to consider in waging war against those nasty shingles, although your physician might know some others as well:
- Oatmeal bath. No, this doesn’t mean finding a giant cereal bowl, heating up some oatmeal, pouring in untold gallons of milk and diving in. Keep it simple. Pour a warm (not hot) bath in the tub and add in a couple cups of colloidal oatmeal – a special type of oatmeal ground to a fine powder used for medicinal purposes. Once you’ve done that, climb in and soak for 15 to 30 minutes, per 10faq.com.
- Cold (not icy) compresses. Per webmd.com, run a washcloth under cool water and place it on top of those pesky blisters for 20 minutes at a time. This will help alleviate the itching while keeping your blisters clean while warding off skin infections.
- Calamine lotion. Yup, just like the old days for Baby Boomers who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Apply it and spread it over your rash and blisters, and it will reward your skin with a cool, soothing balm.
- Vitamin supplements. The trick here is to bolster your immune system, which can play a big role in warding off or at least thwarting shingles if and when they arrive. Per medicalnewstoday.com, a good place to start is with vitamin D, which is linked to boosted immunity. Ditto for vitamin C, zinc, and selenium, which is a key consideration especially for folks over 50.
- Witch hazel. This has nothing to do with Halloween or strange brews. Per medicalnewstoday.com, some researchers have pegged witch hazel as more useful than chamomile in diminishing inflammation as well as that annoying shingles itch in many individuals.
- Essential oils. Three that come to mind, courtesy of medicalnewstoday.com, are eucalyptus oil, chamomile oil, and tea tree oil, each of which has anti-inflammatory properties. Take caution, though: a patch test to check for allergic reactions is recommended first.
- Garlic. This is an herb known for its robust antiviral capacity that supports your immune system – among other things – and that’s good news in the anti-shingles movement. Per facty.com, it is suggested that you get four garlic cloves, create a thick paste out of them, and then apply to the affected area(s). Let it sit for a few minutes, then wash off with warm water. Of course, eating those same cloves might work well, too.
- Baking soda. Same deal as garlic. Mix with water and create a paste and apply. Be gentle in the application of it to the affected areas, so as not to irritate your skin.