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.
July 18, 2013
See more Expert Answers
- Shingles disease — Questions and answers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/dis-faqs.htm. Accessed June 7, 2013.
- Albrecht MA. Treatment of herpes zoster in the immunocompetent host. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 7, 2013.
- Zachary KC. Valacyclovir: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 7, 2013.
- Zachary KC. Famciclovir: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 7, 2013.
- Zachary KC. Acyclovir: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. June 7, 2013.
- Harmful interactions: Mixing alcohol with medicines. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm. Accessed June 6, 2013.
- Shingles: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/shingles/detail_shingles.htm. Accessed June 7, 2013.