The same virus that causes chickenpox is also what triggers shingles. It’s called varicella-zoster. It can lie quietly in your nerves for decades after causing chickenpox but suddenly wake up and become active.
This class of drugs may slow down the progress of the rash, especially if you take it within the first 72 hours of having symptoms.
They can also lower your chance of having complications. Your doctor may prescribe:
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about side effects to watch for if you’re put on one these.
If you have severe pain after the rash clears or an infection during your shingles outbreak, your doctor might prescribe:
Tricyclic antidepressants: There are numerous medications in this class that might help ease the pain that lingers after your lesions have healed, such as amitriptyline, desipramine (Norpramin), and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor). They may also help you with depression, which you may fall into when you get shingles. Talk with your doctor in more detail about these.
Ask your doctor about creams and other things you can try to give yourself some relief.
Some people find that acupuncture and other alternative treatments help with the pain that can linger after shingles. Talk them over with your doctor first.
Can I Prevent Shingles?
If you had the chickenpox, you may be wondering if there’s something you can do to avoid all of this.
The FDA has approved a shingles vaccine. It’s called Zostavax and has been available since 2006.
It is recommended if you’re 60 and older and may even be helpful for those as young as 50. The vaccine cuts the chance of shingles by about half. Even if you still get it, the period of pain can be reduced.