Diagnosis and treatment of shingles

Diagnosis and treatment of shingles

How is shingles diagnosed?

In most situations, a doctor will perform a physical examination of the shingles rash and blisters, he/she may also ask you a series of questions in order to find out more about your medical history.

Rarely, the doctor may also check a sample of the fluid in the blisters using a sterile swab to collect it. The samples are then sent to a lab for testing so as to confirm that the shingles virus is present.  

What is the treatment for shingles?

If you have shingles, your doctor will promptly begin prescription antiviral medication to help speed up the healing process and reduce your risk of any complications. Topical treatments may also be prescribed to aid in the itching and pain of your rash.

Medications include:

  • Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir – these oral drugs aid in reducing pain and speeding up the recovery process.
  • Narcotic medication to reduce pain - taken orally.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling of the rash and ease your pain – taken orally.
  • Antidepressants prescribed for those suffering from prolonged pain.
  • Numbing gels, creams or patches to be applied to the rash as needed.
  • Capsaicin is given to reduce the risk of associated nerve pain which can occur after the recovery from shingles.

Your doctor may also talk to you about making sure you do the following home-treatments to aid in a swift recovery:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Apply wet and cold compresses to the rash in order to ease the itching and pain.
  • Take oatmeal baths is also known to reduce inflammation and pain.

If your symptoms do not respond to medication and have not gotten better within 10 days of diagnosis, it is best that you call your doctor for a re-evaluation and treatment.

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