How to Treat and Prevent Lingering Pain After Shingles

 Pain after shingles, also known as Post-Herpetic Neuralgia is common, but treatable. Here's why it happens and how to stop the pain.

 If you’re suffering from shingles, you need to understand it can lead to discomfort even after it’s gone. In most cases, this is due to a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Shingles is a type of infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus also causes chickenpox.

The most common symptom of shingles is a rash that appears on either side of the torso. This rash typically causes severe itchiness and pain, which continues if a person develops PHN.  

The good news is there are ways to treat the lingering pain after shingles. Keep reading to learn how.

Understanding Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Having shingles is uncomfortable. In addition to itching and pain, it can cause fever, chills, headaches, and stomach issues.

However, post-herpetic neuralgia is something different. It’s a condition that results from the varicella-zoster virus.

This virus tends to cause nerve damage to the area where shingles affect your body. The result is pain, burning, and itchiness.

Post-herpetic neuralgia is more common in older people. In many cases, patients had chickenpox as children and the varicella-zoster virus remained dormant in their body for years. When it reactivates as shingles, the side-effects of PHN are much more intense.

Symptoms of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia 

It’s important to understand that PHN doesn’t occur in every person who develops shingles. It’s possible to get treated for shingles and never experience additional symptoms.

However, the older you are, the more likely you are to get PHN. Even if you get treatment for shingles right away, there’s a chance of nerve damage.
Many people with PHN report a condition called allodynia. This is an increased sensitivity stimulated by things that don’t usually cause pain, such as wind or bed sheets on the skin.

Other symptoms of PHN include shooting pains or achiness. Patients also experience numbness and severe itchiness.

Treating Pain After Shingles 

Fortunately, there are several ways doctors can treat the pain and discomfort associated with post-herpetic neuralgia. You’ll need to speak with your physician to determine which approach is best for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common treatment options.

Anticonvulsant Drugs 

This may sound like overkill, but anticonvulsant drugs can work to bring balance to your central nervous system after nerve damage. The result is a decrease in pain.

Gabapentin, also called Neurontin is one of the most common anticonvulsants taken for PHN. You can Buy Neurontin online or ask your doctor to write you a prescription.

Other anticonvulsants include Carbamazepine and Pregabalin. Ask your doctor about side-effects before taking any of these.
Capsaicin Skin Patches

Another effective treatment option is a capsaicin patch, which contains highly concentrated chili pepper extract.

A doctor will have to administer the patch. You’ll keep the patch on for around two hours under observation.

In some cases, a capsaicin patch can decrease pain related to PHN for up to three months. If the pain returns after that, you can have another one administered.

Antidepressants 

This is another treatment option that may sound strange. However, certain antidepressants can affect how your brain interprets pain.

Some antidepressants used to treat PHN include Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pamelor. You’ll need to discuss the side-effects with your doctor before taking one.

When prescribing for PHN, your doctor will opt for a smaller dose than what’s usually given for depression.

Painkillers 

Prescription painkillers are effective at treating severe pain related to PHN. If over-the-counter drugs like Aspirin or ibuprofen aren’t working, talk to your doctor about something stronger.

Percocet, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are common painkillers used for severe pain. However, these are only temporary solutions.

Before looking into prescription painkillers, it’s important to understand the side-effects. These drugs can cause confusion, drowsiness, and lightheadedness. They’re also highly addictive, which is why you should only take them for a short amount of time.

Steroids 

If you’re experiencing severe pain, your doctor may recommend steroids. A spinal injection can help reduce discomfort related to nerve damage.
This treatment is much less common. It’s sometimes used as a last measure.

Home Remedies

In addition to drugs, there are several things you can do at home to treat the pain and discomfort associated with PHN.

To reduce itching, use a cold compress. Applying one several times throughout the day will prove effective.

Calamine lotion is also a good option. It helps stop itchiness and dry skin associated with PHN.

Taking baths and showers can help with the pain. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, as this could irritate your skin. You can also add baking soda to your bath to help with itchiness.  

Oatmeal baths are effective at soothing irritated skin. There are plenty of products available, or you can make your own.

Finally, get plenty of vitamins and maintain a balanced diet. This will help strengthen your immune system.

How to Prevent Shingles 

The best way to avoid shingles or PHN is to get vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 50 should get the varicella immunization, regardless of whether or not they had chickenpox as a child. Remember, after you get chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays in your body.

If you have children, they need to get the varicella immunization as well. This reduces the chance of both chickenpox and shingles.

It’s important to understand that getting vaccinated doesn’t make you 100% immune to shingles. However, it reduces your chances of getting it and lessens the severity of the infection if you end up with it.

If you come down with shingles, see your doctor right away. The faster you get treatment, the less likely you’ll end up with PHN. Fast treatment may also decrease the amount of time it takes to recover from PHN.

Don’t Suffer After Shingles 

If you’ve developed pain after shingles due to post-herpetic neuralgia, you’re going to have to deal with some level of discomfort. However, you don’t have to suffer for too long if you take action.

Consider the treatment options discussed above and find one that works for you.

We hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to browse our site for more health-related content.
 
 
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