Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a disease caused by the virus Varicella zoste, the same virus that triggers chickenpox. Shingles causes painful inflamed blisters to break out with eruptions appearing on parts of the back, sides, abdomen, and sometimes on the face.
Symptoms include pain and itching, prior to the appearance of a severely painful skin rash of red, fluid-filled blisters that later crust over. The rash is typically located on the trunk or face and only affects one side of the body. Pain may resolve rapidly or persist in the area of the rash for months to years after the rash disappears.
Shingles usually affects the elderly or people with compromised immune function. Nerve pain that persists after other symptoms have cleared is called postherpetic neuralgia. Although no cure exists, treatments are available to relieve the rash and nerve pain.
A few number of self-care steps may be helpful to treat shingles. Consider a topical ointment to soothe pain, applying products containing capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne peppers. The hot component of cayenne pepper, known as capsaicin, is topically used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia.
You can also try peppermint oil for topical use for postherpetic neuralgia. One case report has been published concerning an elderly woman with postherpetic neuralgia who experienced dramatic pain relief from topical application of 2 to 3 drops of peppermint oil to the affected area 3 or 4 times per day.
Additionally, homeopathic remedies are often very helpful for pain relief and recovery. The following homeopathic substances may help treating rashes: arsenicum album, apis mellifica, clematix, iris versicolor, mezereum, ranunculus bulbosus, and rhus toxicodendron. Although homeopathic remedies are generally not known to cause serious side effects, discuss any new treatment program with your healthcare practitioner.