|How to Get Rid of Shingles (and Can You Spread It?)|
by Bruce Kaler, M.D.
Q. How do you get rid of shingles?A. Shingles is the chickenpox virus that's been hanging around and decided to rear its ugly head. It usually goes away on its own, but getting treatment as early as possible is best to help prevent complications.
After chickenpox has lain dormant for decades in one of your nerve roots, something can wake it up. We think the trigger is often some form of stress that lowers your resistance. This drives the immune system below a certain threshold and allows the virus to turn on.
The rash can be preceded by several days of a burning pain that varies in intensity but has a reputation of being quite uncomfortable. Since the virus is trapped in a nerve, the rash appears only in the swath of skin that nerve supplies. It won't even cross over to the other side of your body because nerves start in your backbone.
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Shingles is a herpes virus. It's different than the viruses that cause cold sores and sexually transmitted blisters, but like them, it isn't curable. Shingles will, however, go back into hibernation.
If you're otherwise healthy, you'll probably fight it off like any other virus. Nonetheless, it's best to get treatment. The average shingles outbreak can last several weeks and vary in intensity from one person to the next. Some medicines can reduce the intensity if taken early and can help prevent more misery down the road.
Here are some options:
Over-the-counter topical products like creams are of little use for this frustrating condition.
Consult your health-care provider as soon as you see a suspicious rash to help minimize the pain and frustration. Recurrences can happen, but keeping a healthy lifestyle and managing stress are your best bets for keeping shingles from coming back.
People can't catch shingles from shingles, but they can catch chickenpox from it. Those who have never had chickenpox can get it through direct contact with shingles blisters or their fluid. Those who have had chickenpox or been vaccinated, though, should be immune.
Photo by Fisle, via Wikimedia Commons.
Last updated and/or approved: September 2011. Original article appeared in May/June 2009 former print magazine. Bio current as of that issue. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
written by Aundrea , July 28, 2015
I went to my grandmothers house for eight days. She had shingles. I now have shingles. How can this be if it not contagious.
written by rayya , March 06, 2014
I found that washing it and putting toothpaste on it dries it up faster and goes away in about 1 week
written by Yosef farca , July 17, 2013
put anti perspent deodorant on the infected area as well as garlic and rub the inside of the banana of the infected area u cud also use ice pack do numb the itching pain.shingles is caused by stress and a low immune system.so wen u have shingles u shud try to relax and hydrate urself