Shingles refers to a rash accompanied by other symptoms which result from a viral infection. Here is a look at this ailment, and some supplements that can help treat and ease the symptoms.
Experiencing and Treating Shingles
Shingles is an infection of the skin. Technically referred to as herpes zoster, shingles is an acute infection which results from the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the virus also responsible for chickenpox. Some people who contract chicken pox as kids later see a recurrence of the VZV virus in adulthood, which manifests as shingles.
The first sign of shingles is usually a feeling of itchiness on part of the body, sometimes accompanied by sensations of burning or numbness. This is followed by the appearance of a rash, usually within a few days, on the skin of the face, neck, or torso. A shingles rash tends to leak fluid, and can be itchy and painful. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and muscle aches can also occur. Most cases of shingles clear up within 2-4 weeks.
There is no true cure for shingles, but treatments exist. Certain medications, including antivirals and NSAIDs, can speed up the process of healing. Home remedies are also commonly used, including cool baths, the use of a cold compress, and alternative OTC remedies.
Supplements to Mitigate Shingles Symptoms
Supplements are not a replacement for medical treatment of shingles where necessary, but they can be of help. Here are five supplements with specific applications that can mitigate the uncomfortable symptoms of shingles or at least reduce the chances of experiencing this ailment in the first place:
Witch hazel is an herbal remedy which can help relieve the itchiness and skin damage that occur with shingles. A topical witch hazel water product can be applied to a shingles rash, and can bring direct relief and healing.
Eucalyptus oil is one of the essential oils best known for its ability to help with skin healing. Applied directly to the skin, eucalyptus oil can bolster the healing of skin sores from a shingles rash. This is due, at least in part, to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Zinc: The body uses zinc for many purposes. Zinc can work against shingles in a couple of ways. First, zinc can help by inhibiting viral replication within the body. Second, zinc supports the effectiveness of immune cells which combat viruses, especially T-cells. Supplementing with zinc daily has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of shingles, and other herpes viruses. Furthermore, taking zinc lozenges multiple times each day in a shingles outbreak can speed up recovery and reduce symptoms.
Echinacea has been evidenced to help reduce the pain of shingles, when taken in high doses. Echinacea can also benefit the immune system, such that it could reduce the chances that you experience a shingles outbreak.
L-lysine: Research suggests that L-lysine could help relieve the pain associated with shingles This is because of lysine’s neuroprotectant properties, as well as its ability to raise the levels of zinc in the blood.
If you or someone in your family believes that might be at risk of contracting shingles, or has experienced it before, then it’s best to be prepared. Using one or more of these healthful substances – making sure it’s under the guidance or advisement of your personal physician or other qualified health-care professional -- could reduce the chances of getting shingles, and/or reduce the symptoms of shingles.