Shingles - Diagnosis & Treatment

Shingles is usually diagnosed based on the history of pain on one side of your body, along with the telltale rash and blisters. Your doctor may also take a tissue scraping or culture of the blisters for examination in the laboratory.

There’s no cure for shingles, but prompt treatment with prescription antiviral drugs can speed healing and reduce your risk of complications. These medications include:

  •  Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Shingles can cause severe pain, so your doctor also may prescribe:

  • Capsaicin topical patch (Qutenza)
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • Numbing agents, such as lidocaine, delivered via a cream, gel, spray or skin patch
  • Medications that contain narcotics, such as codeine
  • An injection including corticosteroids and local anesthetics

Shingles generally lasts between two and six weeks. Most people get shingles only once, but it is possible to get it two or more times.

Taking a cool bath or using cool, wet compresses on your blisters may help relieve the itching and pain. And, if possible, try to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.