Shingles – Symptoms and Pain Relief Remedies

Herpes/Shingles virus
Shingles comes from the chicken pox virus and it can be painful, but from the end of January you can visit your Pharmacy for treatment.

Shingles normally appear as a rash on your skin on one side of your body. You might not feel well a few days before the rash appears. You could have a headache, or a part of your skin might feel painful.

Shingles come from the chickenpox virus. Once you have had chickenpox the virus stays with you and can reactivate in your body to produce shingles.

Common areas of the body to have shingles are on the tummy and chest. But you can also get shingles on your face and neck, genitals, and your eyes. After the rash, blisters on your skin which ooze pus will appear After a few days, they will dry out and scab over. Sometimes they can leave slight scarring.

Shingles is a painful condition, and it is a good idea to see a professional for treatment. You can either visit your doctor or go to your chemist under the Pharmacy First service. At the Pharmacy, you can get treatment from the Pharmacist.

Is Shingles Contagious?

You can’t pass shingles on to another person, but people who have never had chickenpox or haven’t had the vaccine can catch chickenpox through contact with you while the blisters are producing pus.

 It is best to avoid contact with people who are having chemotherapy, pregnant women, or very young babies (less than a month old).

Stay at home until the blisters are all dry because once the rash has dried out you won’t pass on the infection.

Can there be complications?

There can be complications, but normally people recover from the infection and don’t have problems.

A rare complication is Ramsey Hunt Syndrome. Shingles affects your facial nerve which then leads to weakness on one side of your face, and it can also produce hearing problems.

Sometimes the rash can become infected, and this will need treatment.

Another complication is you develop post-herpetic neuralgia. This means that although the rash and the blistering have cleared the area remains painful for several months afterwards.

Other problems include scarring, muscle weakness and eye problems.

What types of treatments are available?

If you need treatment, antiviral tablets may be prescribed, which you will need to take within 3 days of the rash first appearing.  Steroid tablets will treat nerve pain and over-the-counter painkillers will help to relieve other pain.

At home, you can use something cold like a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a towel, regularly on your skin, and keep the rash clean by regular washing. Wearing loose-fitting clothes will keep you comfortable.

How long do shingles last?

Shingles don’t disappear quickly. The rash will last about 4 weeks and you may be in pain for a few weeks after that.

Can you catch shingles more than once?

Yes. You can get shingles more than once during your lifetime.

Is there a shingles vaccine?

The shingles vaccine is available on the NHS for people:

  • who were 65 on or after 1 September 2023
  • people aged 70 to 79 who haven’t been vaccinated
  • People aged 50 and over who have weakened immune systems

The vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting shingles, but if you do the symptoms should be milder.

At the Pharmacy

From the 31 January, the Pharmacy First service will be available at VSM Pharmacy. This service enables you to have the treatment you need for shingles through the Pharmacy. It will save you from having to wait for an appointment at the doctor.

Simply contact us at VSM Pharmacy and we will give you an appointment to come and see us in private. You can read more about the Pharmacy First Service here.



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