St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Shingles - aftercare

    Herpes zoster - treatment

    Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is also called herpes zoster.

    What to Expect

    An outbreak of shingles usually follows this course:

    • Blisters and pimples appear on your skin, and you have new feelings of pain.
    • A crust forms over the blisters and pimples.
    • In 2 -4 weeks, the blisters and pimples heal. They rarely come back.
    • Pain from shingles lasts for 2 -4 weeks. You may have tingling or a “pins and needles” feeling, itching, burning, and a deep pain. Your skin may be very painful when it is touched.
    • You may have a fever.
    • You may have short-term weakness of certain muscles. This is rarely lifelong.

    To treat shingles, your health care provider may prescribe:

    • A medicine called an antiviral to fight the virus
    • A medicine called a corticosteroid, such as prednisone
    • Medicines to treat your pain

    You may have post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) pain. This is pain that lasts longer than a month after symptoms of shingles start.

    Skin Care and Itch Relief for Shingles

    To relieve itching and discomfort, these things can help:

    • Cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
    • Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
    • Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin (an extract of pepper)
    • Antihistamines to reduce itching (taken by mouth or applied to the skin)

    Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.

    While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox -- especially pregnant women.

    Managing Pain

    Resting in bed until your fever goes down is advised.

    For pain, you can take a type of medicine called NSAIDs. You do not need a prescription for these.

    • Some examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve or Naprosyn).
    • If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or have had stomach ulcers or bleeding, talk with your health care provider before using these medicines.

    You may also take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain relief. If you have liver disease, talk with your health care provider before using it.

    You may be given narcotics pain relievers. Take them only as directed. These medicines can:

    • Make you sleepy and confused. When you are taking narcotics, do not drink alcohol or use heavy machinery.
    • Make your skin feel itchy.
    • Cause constipation (not being able to have a bowel movement easily). Try to drink more fluids, eat high-fiber foods, or use stool softeners.
    • Make you feel sick to your stomach. Try taking your narcotics with food.

    When to Call the Doctor

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You get a rash that looks or feels like shingles.
    • Your shingles pain is not well-managed.
    • Your pain symptoms do not go away after 3 - 4 weeks.

    References

    Cohen J. Varicella-Zoster virus (chickenpox, shingles). In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 383.

    Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed.St. Louis,Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 12.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Self Care

            Review Date: 6/28/2012

            Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            History
            Mission
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs
            Assessment

            Newsroom
            Services
            Brain & Spine
            Cancer
            Heart
            Maternity
            Orthopedics
            Pulmonary
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            mystlukes
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Health Risk Assessments
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Volunteer
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            Careers
            Careers
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile