Treatment

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.

Aug. 26, 2017
References
  1. Shingles: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Shingles-Hope-Through-Research. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  2. Yun H, et al. Longterm effectiveness of herpes zoster vaccine among patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Journal of Rheumatology. In press. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  3. Ferri FF. Herpes zoster. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  4. Bennett JE, et al., eds. Chickenpox and herpes zoster (varicella-zoster virus). In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  5. Shingles: Clinical overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  6. Longo DL, et al., eds. Varicella-zoster virus infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  7. Albrecht MA. Vaccination for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster). https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 9, 2017.
  8. Shingles/herpes zoster vaccine recommendations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/hcp/recommendations.html. Accessed May 18, 2017.