By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically reviewed By Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
A shingles care plan involves treating the causes as well as the rash, itching, pain, and other symptoms.
Shingles causes a blistering rash that runs along one half of the body in a belt-like fashion. The rash is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, varicella zoster, which can lie dormant for years in the nerve tissue of a person who has had chickenpox. Once the virus reawakens, it spreads up the nerve fibers to the skin and produces the telltale rash of shingles.
An appropriate shingles care plan will employ multiple strategies to help you overcome the varicella zoster virus and cope with the symptoms. You can take medications to help boost your immune system, and relieve the pain and itching associated with the rash, and topical treatments for shingles will soothe the rash directly. Your shingles doctor will most likely be your primary care physician. It is important that you see your doctor as soon as possible after possible shingles symptoms appear so you can get treatment that will effectively reduce the duration of your shingles rash. More severe cases may require shingles treatment from a dermatologist, who can help treat the rash and skin infections, or a neurologist, who can deal with severe or chronic nerve pain.
What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office
There is no immediate cure for shingles. The disease will have to run its course. However, there are a number of medical treatments proven to relieve symptoms and fight the varicella zoster virus:
Your doctor will create a shingles care plan for you and prescribe medications based on a number of factors, including:
At-Home Shingles Care
In addition to the medication that your doctor probably prescribed, much of shingles treatment involves home health care you can do for yourself to relieve your symptoms and prevent complications:
Call your doctor if there is any change in your condition — for example, if your rash continues to spread or if your pain increases. The physician will be able to adjust your shingles care plan accordingly and keep you on the road to recovery.