Shingles is a disease that affects your nerves and is one of the most painful infections out there. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, and occurs in about 10 percent of people who have previously had chickenpox. The infection produces a rash as well as pain, itching and blisters and often wraps around the left or right side of your torso. Luckily, there are a number of natural remedies for shingles that will help ease the pain and discomfort. Take a look at 7 home treatments that help.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a painful rash that’s caused by a viral infection. It can occur anywhere on the body, but most often surfaces as a single strip of blisters that wraps around the left or right side of your torso. It sometimes occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face. Shingles can be extremely painful, but it’s not a life-threatening condition. The blisters typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and fully clear up within 2 to 4 weeks. Before the rash appears, people usually experience pain, itching or tingling in the area where it will develop.
What Causes Shingles?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. While it’s not known exactly what causes it to reappear years later, it’s possible that it resurfaces if a person has a weakened immune system due to infections that come with age, or due to medical treatments or disease. If your immune system is healthy and strong, the virus will stay inactive. You’re also at a higher risk for shingles if you’ve been recently ill, are under excessive stress or if you’ve experienced major trauma.
13 Symptoms of Shingles
2. Burning, numbness or tingling
3. Sensitivity to touch
4. A pink or red rash that appears a few days after the pain
5. Shooting pain in area of the rash
6. Fluid filled blisters that break over and crust over
You may also experience:
10. Sensitivity to light
13. Upset stomach
2 Tips to Prevent Shingles
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
Consuming a healthy diet is key to preventing any type of illness, including shingles. A balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and lean meats is a great way to keep your body healthy and your immune system in check. Aim to include orange, red and green foods that contain the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and provitamin A. These are key for a healthy immune system, so make sure to eat lots of foods like carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, cherries, kale, spinach and parsley.
2. Reduce Stress as Much as Possible
Reducing stress as much as possible is key to preventing shingles. Since emotional stress affects the immune system, it seems to be a trigger for shingles. Reduce stress in your daily life by trying deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, relaxation and therapy if needed. This can help prevent shingles by boosting your immune system and health.
7 Natural Remedies for Shingles
1. Run an Oat Bath
A healing oat bath is an effective way to reduce symptoms of shingles. Add one to two cups of colloidal oatmeal into lukewarm or cool bath water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure not to use hot water as it can worsen the shingles blisters. Colloidal oat products exclude oat protein, so they prevent allergic reactions. Colloidal oatmeal contains flavonoids and saponins, which help reduce inflammation and relieve pain and itchiness.
2. Take a Daily Cool Bath/Shower
Take a cool bath or shower everyday, with minimal scrubbing. This will keep sores and blisters clean and reduce the risk of infection. Cool water can also relieve sore and itchy spots, helping to prevent itching, which can cause scarring.
3. Apply a Cool, Wet Compress
A cool, wet compress will relieve the pain and itchiness that accompanies the shingles rash. It can also reduce inflammation. Soak a cloth in cool water, wring it out and place it over the rash and blisters. Apply it several times throughout the day, as often as you need, to help relieve symptoms. Do not apply an ice pack as it’s too cold, and may increase sensitivity and worsen pain.
4. Follow The Shingles Diet
There are certain foods that can strengthen your immune system and help prevent shingles from spreading to other parts of your body. A shingles diet consists of foods with vitamins A, B-2, C and E, and the amino acid lysine. Foods that help with healing include, orange and yellow fruits, leafy green vegetables, red meat, eggs, chicken, wild-caught fish, whole grains, legumes, beans and tomatoes.
5. Avoid Comfort Foods
It’s common to crave comfort foods as you heal and go through with the effects of shingles, but you should avoid certain foods that can weaken the immune system and potentially prolong the virus. Avoid foods and juices with high amounts of sugar, arginine-rich foods, including chocolate, gelatin and nuts, refined carbs, fried foods, and foods high in saturated fats.
6. Manuka Honey
Applying manuka honey topically is another great home remedy for shingles. Manuka honey has been found to show significant antiviral activity against the varicella-zoster virus. It’s a natural antimicrobial and antibacterial that can reduce the severity of the blisters and rash. Apply the honey directly to the affected areas a few times a day.
7. Make a Baking Soda Paste
Mix baking soda and water to create a paste that relieves the itching caused by shingles. Pour two parts baking soda and one part water into a cup to get a good consistency for the paste. Apply the mixture to your rash and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, rinsing it off with cool to lukewarm water. Repeat several times a day as needed.
If you’re dealing with shingles, try these natural remedies at home to help ease pain and discomfort.