How is shingles treated?

It is important to note that most people with shingles do not need hospitalization.

There is no cure for shingles but there are treatments for managing the symptoms. Antiviral medications may ease the discomfort and may reduce the duration of the symptoms, particularly if started within 72 hours of the first sign of shingles. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) can be effective in relieving mild pain.

If I have disseminated zoster/shingles (more than one area of blisters), what can I expect for my hospital stay?

  • You will be in an airborne-contact isolation room.
  • The door will be kept closed.
  • A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
  • The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.

If I have localized shingles (only one area of my body) that cannot be covered, what can I expect for my hospital stay?

  • You will be in a contact isolation room.
  • The sign on the door will remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.

Are there complications of shingles?

After the shingles rash has disappeared, you might continue to have nerve pain that could last a long time and become quite severe. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. You might also have some other types of nerve issues like numbness or itching. Risk factors for postherpectic neuralgia include being older and having had a severe case of shingles.

How is postherpetic neuralgia treated?

Treatments include lotions or creams (such as lidocaine or capsaicin) and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.

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