Shingles (also known as Herpes Zoster or the varicella-zoster virus) is a painful, blistering rash caused by the same virus as chickenpox. It is a reactivated form of the chickenpox viral infection, which has remained dormant in the body, usually for quite a long time after the initial infection, in the nerve tissue of the spinal cord and brain.
Not life threatening, shingles can nevertheless be very painful. Home remedies can often help ease the pain from shingles blisters and intense nerve pain. Two of the most effective natural remedies to heal painful shingles blisters appear to be apple cider vinegar and ground aspirin, but others have also reported success using aloe vera, cayenne pepper, colloidal silver, and coconut oil.
Top Natural Remedies for Shingles
Many natural remedies for shingles are available that can help heal painful blisters and/or nerve pain from shingles.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Traditionally, apple cider has been used for centuries in healing painful or itchy rashes. Application of apple cider vinegar compress after diluting with an equal amount of lukewarm water or by enjoying a soak in a tub of warm water and 2-4 cups of apple cider vinegar.
The acidic pH of vinegar helps in the drying of the blisters. Note: do not try this remedy if you have open blisters or broken skin.
The apple cider vinegar remedy is the most popular natural cure on Earth Clinic for shingles with 70 readers reporting success. Read the feedback here.
Neem Leaf Poultice
Neem leaves can act against the varicella-zoster virus which causes shingles, as these leaves have antiviral properties. For healing of skin rashes apply the poultice of neem to the rashes. By having a bath in neem leaves soaked water can also be effective.
Take oatmeal baths for extra relief from itching. Ground oatmeal into fine powder and mix in tepid bath water. This will soothe itching.
Shingles, being in the herpes virus family, is greatly affected by the patient body’s L-Lysine to L-Arginine ratio. Shingles require more L-Arginine than L-Lysine to thrive. Therefore, patients should avoid rich arginine food like nuts, tomatoes, grapes, chocolate, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Eating lysine-rich foods is highly recommended, for example, dairy products, apricots, pears, apples, pineapples, asparagus, etc.
Read feedback from Earth Clinic readers on important diet changes that helped them heal from shingles here.
Dip a clean washcloth under cool water and place it on the shingles blisters. This will relieve itching.
Herbalists around the world recommend calendula use to relieve itching and start the healing of blisters. Calendula is famous for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply calendula oil, lotion or gel several times a day.
Capsaicin is naturally found in red pepper and has a painkiller action. Capsaicin exhausts the neurotransmitter called Substance-P, which transmits pain signals to the brain.
Capsaicin ointments are easily found at your local health food store, pharmacy and online. You can also make your own by mixing finely powdered pepper with a simple ointment or moisturizing lotion.
Never apply capsaicin on broken skin. Always do a test application on a small area of skin to have an idea about allergies.
Studies reveal that honey has antiviral activity and also has an action against the varicella-zoster virus. It also has a soothing effect on the skin. Dab a little raw and organic honey on the skin to promote healing.
A Fuller’s Earth clay poultice can be used to dry blisters. Make a paste of fuller’s earth clay with water and apply this poultice to the gauze-covered clean cloth. Apply this at least twice a day on your rash.
Eucalyptus essential oil contains menthol which gives a cooling effect and can soothe itching or burning in Shingles.
Chamomile is well known for its soothing effects. Add chamomile in bath water and have a relief from itching.
Licorice has Glycyrrhizin, an active ingredient which renders the replication process of varicella-zoster. Licorice gel has been traditionally used for the treatment of shingles. An extract of licorice can be prepared at home by boiling licorice in water. Apply this extract on blisters.
Extract of olive leaf has an antiviral action and act against the varicella-zoster. It can be useful in shingles.
Most Popular Shingles Remedies
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What is Shingles?
An outbreak of blisters on the skin is known as shingles. Shingles is an infectious disease of a nerve and the surface of the skin supplied by that nerve. It is a viral disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is sometimes confused with chickenpox as the virus which causes both the diseases are the same.
It is more common in older adults with weak immune systems. A vaccine for shingles is available, but due to the nature of the illness, there’s still a risk of infection.
Shingles appear because of the reappearance of the virus in older age. Actually, when someone has chickenpox the varicella-zoster virus remains in the body and can reappear in the form of shingles.
Is Shingles a Contagious Disease?
Contagious as chickenpox is, you cannot spread shingles outbreaks but you can spread the varicella-zoster virus to those who have never contracted chickenpox. Those with shingles should stay away from a person who has never had chickenpox or has a weak immune system, especially in the elderly.
Who Is At Risk of Having Shingles?
People over 50 are at high risk to have Shingles. However, anyone who suffered from chickenpox has the risk of Shingles. Also, people with a weak immune system are at high risk. This includes people with immune system disorders, cancer, or people taking immunosuppressants.
Fast Fact Shingles
Studies show that in the US every year approximately 1million cases of shingles are reported. Out of 3, 1 person has shingles.
What Are the Symptoms of Shingles?
Shingles symptoms usually occur in a small section of one side of the body as a red rash that appears after a few days of pain, burning, numbness, itching, or tingling. The rash may erupt into fluid-filled or crusty blisters. Some people also experience general aches, fever, and fatigue associated with shingles.
The following list of symptoms can be observed in shingles:
- Tingling, acute pain and itching on a certain part of the skin.
- After 1-5 days of pain, the rash begins to appear on the skin.
- An outbreak of blisters occurs.
- Blisters may merge to form a red band that looks like a severe burn.
- In some cases, a rash may appear on ears, face, eyes, and mouth.
- Inflammation can occur around the rash.
- In rare cases, a rash may be extensive and look like chickenpox rash.
- Blisters dry gradually within 7 to 10 days.
- A minor scar may appear after blister drying.
- Normally Shingles lasts for almost 2-4 weeks.
- In some cases, a rash might not be associated with pain or vice versa.
Other symptoms can include the following:
- Muscle pain
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Stomach problems
Shingles in people with an impaired immune system can lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation or death.
Most people with shingles might not have complications but there is a possibility of following effects:
- Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) effects 10-20% percent of people with shingles
- In 5-10% cases, peripheral motor neuropathy can occur
- inflammation of the spinal cord or brain
- eye problems
- white patches in the rash area
- Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
How Long Does Shingles Last?
Shingles normally lasts between 2-4 weeks but can linger much longer in older patients, which is why supplementing with immune-building herbs is essential in getting over shingles.
Reader Feedback Remedies for Shingles
Continue reading to learn some of the most effective home remedies sent by our readers to heal the painful shingles blisters and nerve pain. The most popular remedy is apple cider vinegar, but our readers have also reported success using aloe vera, cayenne pepper, colloidal silver, coconut oil, and many other remedies.
Art Solbrig from California recommends grinding aspirin into a fine powder and mixing it into a fast absorbing lotion like Cetaphil and applying that to the skin every few hours. This simple aspirin remedy has helped a number of people find relief, including an elderly family member of EC.
Send Us Your Shingles Remedy!
Know of a remedy not yet listed here? Please don’t hesitate to share it with us!