Healing Shingles Rashes and Blisters with Ease

With every shingles attack come the rashes and blisters that are the main characteristic of this condition. These are in the form of red, fluid filled lesions which can be extremely itchy and painful. However, there are ways in which you can heal the shingles rashes and blisters with ease. Read on and you’ll discover how!

As mentioned earlier, shingles rash is considered one of the most prominent characteristics of this disease. In fact, a large number of doctors can diagnose shingles easily from the distinct appearance of its rashes alone. These rashes develop in a highly specific pattern and also have blisters as that pattern’s part. As you may be already aware, shingles is caused as a result of the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus that also causes chickenpox. Once you recover from the chickenpox, this virus migrates into your nerve tissues and remains dormant for several decades. It remains suppressed owing to your body’s immunity levels. But whenever your immunity levels go down, this virus may wake up and travel back up through the nerves and into the skin, causing what is commonly known as shingles rashes and blisters. As many as 20% of the chickenpox sufferers face a shingles attack during the later years of their lives.

Pain, followed by the rashes’ eruption

The initial symptoms of shingles are more like tingling, burning or itching sensations, making your skin highly sensitive. People also report feeling a sort of numbness and pain in the nerves underneath the skin or occasional shooting pains running down the legs, arms or around the body’s trunk. People may also develop flulike symptoms such as an upset stomach, headache and/or fever during this pre-rash stage of shingles.

The initial symptoms of shingles are more like tingling, burning or itching sensations, making your skin highly sensitive. People also report feeling a sort of numbness and pain in the nerves underneath the skin or occasional shooting pains running down the legs, arms or around the body’s trunk. People may also develop flulike symptoms such as an upset stomach, headache and/or fever during this pre-rash stage of shingles.

Shingles blisters – Where do they get formed and how they feel?

Shingles blisters normally get formed only in one specific location and only on one single side of the body. Once you have experienced the skin sensations (as detailed above) in a particular part of your body, it is followed by the appearance of a rash within 2 to 3 days’ time. These rashes start out having the appearance of blotchy and red lesions, which soon erupt and take shape of tiny, fluid filled blisters during the next 3 to 6 days. Please note, the blisters which occur in case of shingles are different from that of chickenpox in the way that the former cluster into one specific area instead of spreading over the entire body (as in case of chickenpox).

The fluid inside the shingles blisters is clear initially, but these blisters soon assume a bloody, yellow or white appearance as the varicella-zoster virus gets attacked by the body’s white blood cells. Eventually, these blisters break open, taking the form of open sores that crust within one or 2 weeks’ time. These crusty scabs usually fall of the skin on their own during the next 2 to 4 weeks. Shingles rashes and blisters can burn, ache and itch quite badly. Such burning sensations are usually accompanied by excruciating pain. You must never scratch the shingles blisters despite experiencing terrible itch, as it can result in bacterial infections.

How to heal shingles rashes and blisters?

Shingles rashes and blisters can be healed easily by adopting the following methods:

Taking some general measures at home

The constant irritation caused on the affected skin area can be reduced significantly by wearing loose fitting cotton clothes. You can also ease the pain by cooling off the affected area by taking a cool bath, using wet dressings and applying ice cubes. Covering up the rash with a non-adherent dressing, especially when the rash has just blistered and is raw can help in easing the pain caused when it comes into contact with the clothing. Using simple creams can also help in reducing the itchiness of the shingles rashes.

Using painkillers

Using painkillers like paracetamol, co-codamol (paracetamol plus codeine), or anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen can also provide some relief from the shingles rashes and blisters. Doctors even prescribe strong painkillers like tramadol and oxycodone in certain cases.

Using anti-viral medicines

You may even be prescribed certain anti-viral medications like valaciclovir, famciclovir or aciclovir to treat the shingles rashes and blisters. Although an anti-viral medication doesn’t eliminate the virus, it helps in preventing the virus from further multiplication. Hence, it can provide relief from the severity of the shingles symptoms. Please note that an anti-viral medication proves most helpful when you start having it during the early stages of shingles (normally inside the 72 hours of appearance of shingles rashes). However, in certain cases doctors even advice their consumption post the 72 hours’ time. This is particularly seen in case of elderly patients (in whose case shingles is quite severe) or in cases where the shingles affects the eye.

Furthermore, anti-viral medications aren’t given to every shingles patient. For instance, children and young adults who have shingles on their abdomen region exhibit very mild symptoms and hence are not given any antivirals. Such shingles anti-viral course usually lasts for 7 days’ time period.

In general, it is the following groups of shingles patients who’re normally prescribed the shingles anti-viral medications:

  • Anyone over 50 years in age. The risk of shingles assuming a more complicated shape such as PHN (Postherpetic Neuralgia) is more prevalent in case of older people, and hence they are more likely to benefit from antivirals.
  • If you suffer from any of the following:
    • Severe to moderate level of rashes
    • Severe to moderate level of pain
    • Immuno suppression or an immune system that is functioning quite poorly
    • Shingles affecting any body part other than the trunk, including neck, genitals, leg and arm
    • Shingles particularly affecting the ear or eye areas

Anticonvulsants and antidepressant medications

You may be prescribed the following if you’re suffering from unbearable pain and discomfort because of shingles rashes and blisters, or the shingles in your case has led to PHN:

  • An anticonvulsant medication like gabapentin. Apart from its ability to control convulsions, it also eases out neuralgic pain.
  • An antidepressant medication of the tricyclic group. Please note, the use of antidepressants in case of shingles is not for depression treatment. Tricyclic antidepressants like nortriptyline, imipramine and amitriptyline are known to ease the nerve pain (neuralgia) apart from having depression relieving abilities.

Please keep in mind that if you are advised to consume an anticonvulsants or an antidepressant for healing your shingles rashes and blisters, you should take such medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor and never miss a dose. Normally, it takes anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks for such medications to take effect. Apart from healing your shingles pain, these medicines can also prevent PHN.

Steroids

Steroids are known to be helpful in reducing the inflammation or swelling caused as a result of shingles. They are normally prescribed in addition to the anti-viral medicines. Commonly known steroid tablets like prednisolone can help in reducing the pain and speed up the healing process of the shingles rash. However, as the usage of such steroid medications is quite controversial, your doctor may or may not prescribe them for you.

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