Does moderate alcohol use interfere with shingles treatment?

Answers from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.

Generally, it's best to avoid alcohol during shingles treatment.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. An episode of shingles usually heals on its own within a few weeks. However, immediate shingles treatment — often including an antiviral drug, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) or valacyclovir (Valtrex) — can reduce pain, speed healing and reduce the risk of complications.

Although alcohol warnings aren't specifically listed in the product labels for the antiviral drugs most often used to treat shingles, it's usually best to avoid mixing alcohol and medication. Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, as well as increase the risk of side effects, such as dizziness, especially in older adults.

Jul. 18, 2013