If you are in a group more likely to develop shingles and you spotted a rash, what do you do next? Contact your physician right away. He or she will provide antiviral medications that can shorten the duration and intensity of the shingles if taken early. Before you see your doctor:
- Keep the rash covered.
- Do not touch or scratch the rash.
- Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Avoid contact with pregnant women who have never had chicken pox or the shingles vaccine; premature or low birth weight infants; and people with weak immune systems.
There is no cure for shingles, but treatments for the condition can help ease the pain and discomfort.
- Antiviral medications can be helpful if started within 72 hours of the first sign of the shingles.
- Pain medications such as over-the-counter Tylenol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ex: Motrin, Ibuprofen) can be helpful. For more severe pain, prescription pain meds and steroids may be prescribed.
- Topical treatments such as Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths may be soothing.
You can prevent a recurrence of shingles. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), two vaccines are available to avoid shingles.
- Chickenpox vaccine: This vaccine is routinely given to children aged 12-18 months to prevent chicken pox. Experts recommend it also for adults and older children who have never had chicken pox. The vaccine does not provide 100 percent immunity, but it does considerably reduce the risk of complications and severity of the disease.
- Shingles vaccine: This vaccine can help protect adults older than 60 who have had chicken pox. It does not provide 100 percent immunity, but it does considerably reduce the risk of complications and severity of shingles. The vaccine is preventive and is not used to treat people who are infected.