Chances are you had the chicken pox as a child. You can probably remember the red spots along with the non-stop itching. Worse yet, you were told not to scratch, so you were left suffering in your own skin.
A common belief is that you can only get the chicken pox once in your lifetime. You might think you’re in the clear. Unfortunately, the same virus, Varicella-zoster virus that causes chicken pox, can strike again in your later years.
The condition is called shingles and it can cause a painful rash and blisters. After the initial chicken pox infection, the virus can lay dormant in the nerve cells. It can “reactivate” itself, though researchers are unclear as to how this happens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate one in three Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime.
Let’s learn about the causes, symptoms and natural remedies for shingles.
Causes and symptoms
The main cause for shingles is the Varicella-zoster virus. Although the virus may be dormant for years, it is still unclear as to why it may re-emerge. Some speculate that as we age our immune systems become weaker and thus cannot fight off the virus as effectively.
Symptoms of shingles include:
- Sensitivity to touch
- Development of a rash
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Sensitivity to light
Typically a shingles rash will present on one side of the body, or in a strip. The rash tends to blister and usually clears up in two to four weeks.
Although treatable, the older you are the higher the risk of complications developing. If you are over the age of 70 you should seek medical attention to minimize your risk.
Risk factors of shingles
If you’ve had chicken pox, you can also develop shingles later on in life. Other risk factors include being over the age of 50, having a disease that weakens the immune system (such as HIV or cancer), undergoing cancer treatment and taking certain medications such as a prolonged use of steroids.
Related: Is Shingles Contagious?
Natural remedies for shingles
There are medications that a doctor can prescribe to treat shingles, but you can aid in your recovery by using some of these natural remedies.
Cool bath or wet compresses: Apply wet compresses or take a cool bath to help soothe blisters and minimize the itchy sensation caused by shingles.
Soothing lotions: To minimize skin irritation and itchiness use a lotion. Avoid lotions that are heavily scented as that can contribute to the irritation. Calamine lotion is a good option.
Pain-reliever lotions: Aside from lotions that can stop the itch, it’s a good idea to use a lotion that can aid in pain relief. Look for a lotion that contains capsaicin as an ingredient. This ingredient has been shown to help relieve pain.
These are just some natural remedies you can use to help relieve the symptoms brought on by shingles.
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