Why don't you have any information about treatment for shingles?
Dear Need Info,
We tend to publish topics on which we receive the most letters of inquiry. As more letters come in on topics of general interest, then information will be provided. Below are information and treatment options for shingles.
What are Shingles?
Shingles are a painful outbreak of skin rash or blisters on the face or one side of the body. The virus that causes chicken pox (varicella zoster), in an altered form (herpes zoster) causes shingles. Risk of developing shingles increases if one has already had chicken pox or in folks over the age of 50. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease estimates that "fifty percent of all Americans will have had shingles by the time they are 80."
Shingles is not contagious. However, the fluid from open blisters is infectious and can cause chicken pox in someone who has never had chicken pox.
Treatment for Shingles
Immediate treatment with antiviral medications (acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir) will help reduce the pain and severity. In addition, pain may also be reduced with nonprescription pain medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. Additional treatment options include steroids and topical agents to stop infection of the blisters.
Pain usually subsides within 3 to 5 weeks and the rash will heal. However, for some, the pain may last months or years. Also, shingles on the face could affect hearing and vision and needs immediate medical attention.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently approved the use of a vaccine to prevent shingles. The National Institute of Health reported, "The vaccine, called Zostavax, is recommended for people 60 years of age and older who have had chickenpox but who have not had shingles. Researchers estimate the vaccine could prevent 250,000 cases of shingles that occur in the United States each year and significantly reduce the severity of the disease in another 250,000 cases annually."
See www3.niaid.nih.gov and http://nihseniorhealth.gov/shingles for more information about shingles.