That rash you've been ignoring could be worse than you thought

It's always best to seek medical advice.

It’s a viral infection that can cause you pain with a red rash that can occur anywhere on your body… Shingles.

If you didn’t already know, shingles is actually caused by the same virus as chicken pox. If you’ve had chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in your body and if you’re stressed or have suffered an illness later in life this can trigger a case of shingles.

It’s not nice!

Usually, a doctor will prescribe some antiviral medication to treat shingles. These meds work to reduce the amount of time you are suffering and also reduce the symptoms, which include a painful, blistering rash and occasionally long-lasting nerve pain. You might experience flu-like symptoms such as a fever or a headache with the rash.

However, there are some natural remedies that can be used in conjunction with your medication (or in isolation) that have proven their effectiveness in easing the pain and discomfort you’ll experience with shingles.

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A cool bath
The cool water can ease the painful and uncomfortable skin affected by shingles. If you soak in a tub for several minutes and then dry your skin completely you should start to feel less irritated by the condition. Water that is too cold can have a negative effect on your skin, including increased pain. Be sure to wash any towel that comes into contact with your skin and use the hottest water setting you have available, as this will help eliminate the condition spreading.

Natural pain relievers
Applying cornstarch or baking soda can assist in drying the sores so that they heal more quickly. If you have crusted sores you can soak them with tap water to help clean away the crust, decrease oozing and dry and soothe your skin. You can also mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in two cups of water and use a cotton cloth to moisten the affected area. If you are looking to treat the rash, try mixing aloe vera gel, raw hone and leek juice together and then applying it directly to the rash.

Pepper extract
You might find that creams containing capsaicin (a pepper extract that has been used for centuries to relieve pain naturally) may be useful in the treatment of your shingles. You’ll find that while they won’t quicken the duration of your shingles, such creams will make the condition more bearable.

Increase your lysine intake
Lysine is an amino acid found in your body and derives from the foods you eat. It’s said that a diet higher in lysine foods will help a case of shingles so with that in mind you might want to look at the amount of meat, fish, yoghurt, cheese, milk, eggs, apples, pears, apricots, avocados, pineapples, green beans and asparagus you are eating. You’ll also want to avoid (or at least reduce) the foods containing arginine, which is said to help the virus thrive, and these include tomatoes, wheat germ, Brussels sprouts, cashews, grapes, pumpkin seeds, pecans, blackberries, blueberries, peanuts, chocolate and sugar.

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Acupuncture is said to have had much success in treating shingles. According to traditional Chinese medicine, shingles are caused by damp heat in your body and those toxins attack the liver and gallbladder meridians. Acupuncture is said to help remove the heat and the toxins from your body, expel the damp and regulate your Qi and blood.

When it comes to relieving the shingles symptoms be sure to keep any blisters dry and the affected area clean. As tempting as it might be, avoid bursting any blisters that form on your skin as this can lead to further infection. If you are suffering a burning sensation, apply a wet dressing to soothe it.

Have you ever suffered shingles? Tell us about your treatment and how long it took to go away.

For more information on the risks and symptoms to look out for, please visit