Does moderate alcohol use interfere with shingles treatment?
Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, 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, Sitavig), famciclovir 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 22, 2021
Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html. Accessed April 7, 2021.
- Albrecht MA. Treatment of herpes zoster in the immunocompetent host. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 7, 2021.
- Harmful interactions: Mixing alcohol with medicines. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines. Accessed April 7, 2021.
- 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 April 7, 2021.