Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated one million cases of shingles occur in the United States every year.
The varicella zoster virus also causes chicken pox. When a person gets chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues of the body even after treatment. Shingles occurs when the virus gets reactivated. It is not yet known what causes the virus to reactivate.
Anyone who had chickenpox can get shingles. The elderly and those who had chickenpox before one year of age are at higher risk. Also, people with weak immune systems and those suffering from health conditions like cancer, lymphoma, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and leukemia are at higher risk of shingles.
The main characteristic of shingles is a red skin rash with pain and burning sensation. The rash is usually on one side of the body and occurs in small patches mostly on the trunk, buttocks or face.
The rash can be very itchy and can develop into blisters. Other symptoms of shingles are headache, fever, body pain, fatigue and sensitivity to light.
Shingles can clear up on its own in about three to four weeks. There are antiviral medications that are very effective for treating shingles. You can also use some natural home remedies to help ease the discomfort of shingles and possibly speed up the healing process.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for shingles.
1. Cold Water
Cold water can help control the pain from blisters. It can also help ease itching and irritation.
- Soak a towel in cold water, wring out the excess water and gently place it on the blisters. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then remove it. Repeat until the pain decreases.
- Also, you can take a cool bath to help ease pain. Soak in cool water for several minutes, and then pat dry your skin completely.
Note: Do not use ice packs or water that is too cold. Also, make sure to wash any used towels to prevent spreading the virus.
The anti-irritating and soothing properties of oatmeal can give you much relief from the irritation, pain and constant itchiness associated with shingles.
- Add two cups of finely powdered oatmeal to a bath tub filled with lukewarm water. Soak in this bath water for 10 to 15 minutes. You can take this soothing bath two or three times daily, until there is improvement in your condition.
- You can also a make a paste of one tablespoon of coarsely powdered oatmeal and water. Apply the paste on the affected area, allow it to dry on its own, and then wash it off with warm water. Repeat several times a day for at least one week.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another very effective remedy for shingles. It will help dry out the sores and stop the itching. Being a natural disinfectant and antiviral, it will also speed up the recovery process.
- Mix together equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water. Soak a cotton cloth in the solution and place it on the affected areas. Leave it on until it dries on its own. Repeat several times daily until the shingles heal completely.
- Also, you can add one teaspoon each of apple cider vinegar and honey to a glass of warm water. Drink this solution three times daily with meals for one or two weeks.
4. Aloe Vera
Due to its soothing and cooling properties, aloe vera is also considered an excellent home remedy for shingles. It can soothe the affected skin, reduce pain and itching, and speed up the healing process.
- Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel to the affected area, rubbing gently in a circular motion.
- Leave it on for about 30 minutes, and then wash it off with cold water. You can also take a cold bath.
- Follow this remedy two or three times daily for about a week.
Licorice contains several antiviral and immune-boosting compounds that help in the treatment of shingles.
- Add a little water to one teaspoon of licorice powder to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area, allow it dry on its own, and then rinse it off with warm water. Follow this remedy two or three times a day for one or two weeks.
- You can also brew a strong tea from licorice, allow it to cool and then dab it on the blisters using cotton balls. Do this three or four times daily until you see improvement.
Garlic is one of the strongest antiviral foods available and a great home treatment for shingles.
- Make a paste of five garlic cloves and apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for five minutes, and then wash it off with warm water. Do this a few times daily for one or two weeks.
- You can also eat three to four cloves of raw garlic daily, or take two 1000 mg garlic capsules twice a day, for one week.
Honey is a good remedy to treat the blisters associated with shingles. The healing and skin-reviving properties of honey will help clear up the blisters as well as relieve pain and irritation.
- Apply honey on a bandage and put it on the affected area. Use as many bandages as needed to cover the area. Replace with fresh honey every few hours. Continue until your condition improves.
- Also, eat one tablespoon of honey daily to boost your immune system for faster recovery.
8. Virgin Coconut Oil
Pure virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral properties that help treat shingles.
- Lightly warm some virgin coconut oil. Apply this oil on the affected skin and cover the area with gauze. Change every few hours. Continue the remedy until you notice improvement in your condition.
- Also, try to include two or three tablespoons of coconut oil in your daily diet. You can start by taking one tablespoon a day and gradually increase the amount. This is a great way to help your body heal quickly.
9. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has polyphenols that give this herb its antiviral property. Lemon balm can help get rid of the pain and discomfort from blisters and rashes.
- Make lemon balm tea by steeping two to four teaspoons of this herb in one cup of boiling water for five to 10 minutes.
- Allow the tea to cool.
- Soak a cotton ball in the tea, apply the solution on the affected area, and leave it on until it dries completely.
- Repeat the process at least four times daily until you get relief.
10. Sea Salt
Sea salt has antiseptic properties, and hence it will help treat shingles naturally. Sea salt will help dry up the blisters quickly for faster recovery.
- Mix one tablespoon of sea salt in one-half cup of water. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture on the affected area. Do this three or four times a day for one week to help heal the blisters.
- You can also add one-half to one cup of sea salt to your bath water and soak in it for 30 minutes daily.
Along with these remedies, you need to follow certain precautionary measures, including:
- Keep the inflamed skin clean and dry.
- Do not pick at the blisters.
- Keep the blisters exposed to air as much as possible.
- You can apply calamine lotion or capsaicin cream on the affected area.
- Do not share any cloths, towels or flannels with others.