Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime. This viral infection is caused by the varicella zoster (VZV) virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.
If you had chickenpox as a child, the shingles virus lies dormant in your system. But the virus can reactivate later in life and cause a shingles rash. The rash can occur on any part of your body but typically only affects small sections. Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. The rash and fluid-filled blisters form within a couple of days after the onset of pain. Some people with shingles also have a fever, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.
There’s no cure for shingles, but your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to shorten the duration of the virus and reduce symptoms. Although an antiviral is an effective treatment for shingles, it’s not the only option. Several natural remedies may also reduce pain and discomfort.
Daily cleansing of the blisters reduces the risk of spreading the infection. Take a cool bath or shower to soothe skin. The coolness of the water can ease pain from shingles blisters and calm itchiness.
You can also take a healing bath to reduce symptoms. Pour 1 to 2 cups of colloidal oatmeal or cornstarch into lukewarm bathwater and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not use hot water. Hot water can worsen shingles blisters because heat increases blood flow. Dry your body completely and then wash your towel to avoid spreading the virus to others.