Shingles

If you ever had shingles you know how very uncomfortable they can be. Shingles (herpes zoster) is from the same virus that causes chickenpox. In some people after the chickenpox goes away, the virus goes dormant in nerve roots. It can lay dormant for years. When your resistance is down or when you're under stress it can act up.

The rash is normally on one side of your body, although it is rare, I have seen a case when it hit both sides of the body. The back and torso are a common place of infection. I know someone who had it on the face and eyes. You can get outbreaks anywhere. I normally get mine on my arm or hand.

Shingles is more prone in people over fifty, but I know of a child who had it. I've been having it off and on since I was 30. So for every rule there is an exception. As you get older there is an increase chance that you could have nerve damage and nerve pain even after your outbreak is done. Neuralgia is a pain that may continue months or even years after you had shingles. I had a patient who had this nerve pain for years. He needed regular pain medication to just keep the pain under control.

3 or 4 days before an outbreak you may feel ill. You may have chills, fever, fatigue, and stomach upsets. I usually get a awful headache and pain in the base of the skull. Also I get electrical shocks going from my spine to my shoulder. The area of outbreak usually becomes itchy, and has a burning pain. The skin in that area will become red. Within a few days painful itchy blisters will start to appear.

Blisters are infectious for about a week, and especially dangerous to someone who is pregnant or in compromised health from cancer treatments, recent surgery or very ill.

After about 5 days the blisters will start to dry up and scab over. You may continue to break out even when one cluster is drying up. Lesions are usually gone in another week.

You may find you are very tired this whole time. I need about 10 hours of sleep when I have it.

What you can do if you get shingles.

  • As soon as I feel this virus coming on I put straight lavender and tea tree oil on my spinal column, and on the area where it's going to break out. Both lavender and tea tree are anti-viral. Lavender is also a analgesic. I will do this at least twice a day. More if I'm home that day. I also put both on the base of my neck and lavender on the headache area. This will actually reduce the severity of the outbreak. If you're not comfortable using the essential oils straight, then mix it with some lotion and have someone apply it to your back. Both lavender and tea tree are safe to use directly on the skin without diluting. Do not use lavender in the first 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Rub you feet with lotion that has a few drops of lavender and tea tree essential oil added to it. Pay special attention to the inner side of the foot. This area is related to the spinal column in reflexology. If any area is sore, spend a little extra time there. Try to do this 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Soak in a tub with 10 to 15 drops lavender, tea tree, roman chamomile, lemon, bergamot or ravensara essential oil in it. (or all of them.)
  • See a doctor if you need to, they can order anti-viral pills like Zovirax, or an ointment to apply to the rash. There are other things the Doctor may give you to reduce the pain. I know someone who needed morphine shots for the pain.
  • I recently tried a different approach to my shingles. I had shingles trying to break out on the palm of my hand. Because of the tougher skin there it was having a hard time coming to the surface. I was having quite a bit of discomfort. I put a magnet bracelet on that wrist and the shingles broke out faster and the pain decreased. This is not a normal approach, but I'll try anything that works. I'm going to try magnets next time to see if I have the same results.
  • Apply hydrocortisone creme to the rash for itching.
  • Apply calamine lotion to the rash for the itching. I would add one or more essential oils to it for extra effect.
  • Apply warm lavender and tea tree compresses to the rash as needed.
  • I read one article in a magazine that said to use ice on the rash to reduce the pain. I tried this. Not a good idea! It may have helped for a few minutes. But this keeps the blisters from coming out. This only made the cycle take longer. Not only that, they are more painful before they break out.
  • If you get an outbreak on your face, see a doctor and/or ophthalmologist to prevent it from spreading to your eyes. Never put anything in the eyes unless the doctor or opthalmologist orders it for you. Don't mess around with shingles on the face. I know someone who lost her vision because of shingles. Make sure you don't scratch or touch the blisters, then touch your eyes. You don't want to spread it to your eyes.
  • Take pain pills as needed.
  • The reason I put straight lavender and tea tree essential oil is I feel it decreases the pain and shortens the length and severity of the outbreak.
  • Lysine fights shingle virus growth. You can take this in pill form. Take about 500 mg. three times a day for a couple of weeks. Or you can get it in your food. Some foods that are rich in lysine are dairy foods, fish, turkey, eggs, chicken, soy, brewer's yeast, potatoes, lentils, black beans, spinach, peas, asparagus, chinese cabbage, parsley, and butter beans.
  • Get plenty of rest so you can fight the virus better.
  • Take a multi vitamin pill.
  • Get more antioxidants and vitamins that help fight viruses. This can be in foods or supplements. Some examples are vitamin C, vitamin E, Zinc, beta-carotene, and selenium are just a few of them.
  • Flaxseed oil contains important fatty acids that supports your nervous system. I take it daily now as a supportive and preventive measure.
  • Eat garlic, it's good for viruses and infections. If you don't like garlic or don't want to smell like a loaf of garlic bread, then take kyolic or aged garlic. It doesn't smell as much and is more polite.
  • I like to take herbal antibacterial/anti-virals when I have a outbreak of shingles. My resistance is compromised at that time and I'm prone to catch everything else. I take GSE, garlic, echinacea, olive leaf, elderberry, or oregano oil pills. I really feel this supports me and helps me combat the shingles faster.
  • Some other essential oils that are said may help against shingles are bergamot, Roman chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon and ravensara. Dilute in water and use as a mist or compress to that area. You can also mix it in lotion, aloe or oil and apply to area of outbreak.

  • Some herbalists feel that lemon balm is good for treating shingles. It can be made into a strong tea of 2 teaspoons of dried leaf per cup of boiling water. Apply this tea to the rash several times a day.
  • Another homemade tea that some herbalists suggest making is mixing oregano, peppermint, ( or any mint) hyssop, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, or sage. Apply it to the rash. A compress may work well.
  • Zostrix is a cream you can buy for shingles. One of the active ingredients is red pepper. You can make your own shingle cream by adding some powdered red pepper to a white skin lotion until it turns pink. Dab this on your rash. Make sure you wash your hands after and don't get it in your eyes! Red pepper works by blocking pain signals from the nerves. Test this first, if it causes irritation, don't use it.
  • A Dutch folk- remedy is crushing a leek and placing the juice on the affected area. Repeat as needed. Hmmm, I wonder if onion or garlic would work also? They all are kind of the same family.
  • Acupressure or acupuncture is said to help with shingles and the post shingle pain neuralgia.
  • Meditation and relaxation helps. I also like to do visualization to to help the control the pain.
  • Qiqong may help release energy blockages and increase healing energy flow to needed areas. this may be worth a try.

Hopefully you will find something here that will work for you. As in all medicine, everyone responds differently. What works for one person, does nothing for the next. And what won't work one time may work later. I wish you well. :)


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