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Many Ways to Fight Shingles Pain

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It's an odd name for a nasty condition: shingles. It has nothing to do with roofing. The Latin name, cingulum, meaning "belt," became "shingles" in early English. The Latin name is a reference to the strips of rash on one side of the body.
Shingles is a painful skin condition that can develop in anyone who has had chickenpox. The virus that causes chickenpox, Varicella zoster virus (VZV), is a member of the herpes family. It goes into hiding when a person recovers from chickenpox, but many years later if age, illness or stress weakens the immune system, VZV can reappear. It causes extreme tenderness along the path of the affected nerve. Within a few days, a blistering rash appears.

Shingles usually attacks older people, but even individuals in their 40s may suffer. Prescription anti-viral drugs such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) or valacyclovir (Valtrex) can shorten the duration and intensity of the attack. These drugs are most effective if taken within a few days of the initial symptoms.

There is now a shingles vaccine, Zostavax, that halves the chance of coming down with shingles. It also seems to reduce the severity of the attacks that occur.

Some people have wondered if they should get vaccinated after they have had shingles. One reader wrote: "I had shingles many years ago. So did my friend. Her doctor gave her a shingles shot so she won't get it again. My doctor said by having shingles I built antibodies to it and don't need the shot. Which doctor is correct?"

Data just published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (February, 2011) show that people can get shingles more than once. As a result, it makes sense to get vaccinated even after having shingles. People are urged to get the shot after they turn 60 and not to wait until they are debilitated. The shot is considered much less reliable if the immune system is weakened.

People with shingles are often desperate, like this reader: "I have recently had an outbreak of shingles, even though I had the vaccine last year. This is the sixth week of constant burning pain with the rash gradually fading. It covers the right side of my chest, shoulder and back of neck.

"The doctor gave me Vicodin and lidocaine patches for the pain. Is there anything natural that I could take for this nerve pain?"

Readers of this column have offered several suggestions. One person took L-lysine twice a day, on the theory that it helps heal cold sores (caused by a different herpes virus). She reported: "I didn't have all the after-pain and the rash disappeared fast." Another reader reported success from adenosine monophosphate injections, based on decades-old preliminary research (Journal of the American Medical Association, March 8, 1985).

One popular home remedy is Listerine: "An unemployed friend without health insurance had an outbreak of shingles on the right side of his face. It made his ear and jaw ache and the rash was becoming raw. I found a brief mention of using Listerine on shingles, and he tried it. After 72 hours of thrice daily application of Listerine, the sores have dried up and are scabbing over, his pain is almost gone and he is healing nicely."

Home remedies remain untested, so preventing an outbreak is best. The vaccine offers that possibility.

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I want to thank you for stating that "a shingles vaccine, Zostavax," .... halves the chance of coming down with shingles." Many, many people do not know this, and if they have the symptoms of shingles think they have something else. I learned this in a phone call to the manufacturer of the vaccine after I contracted shingles (left side of the face) five months after being vaccinated.

I do not believe my family physician was aware of this; if so, he did not mention it to me. It did, however, greatly reduce the severity and length, and with Valtrex and Rx eye drops, I was able to continue with an important trip across the country, with mild red spots and no eye involvement.

However, I have had two recurrences, the first of which caused permanent damage to the cornea, which 18 months later is better, but far from normal, and I have been told that's as good as it's going to get.

During this time, I have been referred successively to five different ophthalmologists, plus those at the USC Doheny Eye Clinic in Los Angeles, near where I live.

I think it is important that the public be aware of the limited protection, though not making people decide against the vaccination, but rather know that it is not a sure thing.

I had shingles once back in 1989 & don't ever want to get them again. My doctor told me that it is wise to get the shingles vaccine because as you grow older your immune system is not as strong.

The only problem is that he gave me a prescription for Zostavax, but very few pharmacies carry it due to it having to be kept on ice & when you pick it up up have to have and ice chest and go straight to the doctor's office to get it injected.

Also the Pharmacist who does carry it told me there was a huge BACK-ORDER for Zostavax--he said he has been waiting 4 months for his order.

After 50 years from an initial shingles incident in my teens, I got another bout last year. However, it was misdiagnosed at first because I had all the symptoms, my eye was swollen shut, but no rash. I was very ill.

A 24 hour clinic put me on antibiotics that did not help. I went to my own doctor and she suspected it was a more rare kind that are under the skin rather than on top of the skin. It was past the time that an antiviral usually helps. However, she did give me one. I did not have lingering pain.

I did some research and started taking olive leaf extract because of its antiviral action. I have not even had a sore throat in the year since. I am hopeful that it is assisting my immune system to kill or render weak any remaining Shingles virus.

I had shingles several years ago. I suffered for about 6 weeks until someone suggested I take cayenne capsules. After just two days on the cayenne my pain disappeared.

My husband had shingles on the face last fall, and I mixed several drops of
eucalyptus essential oil in olive oil, and he would rub it into the aching spots and it seemed to help him a lot. He never took any pain medicine. I also added a few drops later of astyptodyne (all natural pine oil) to the mixture. We were amazed.

I, unfortunately, had the shingles twice, both times around the right side of my waist. The second time I made a tincture out of 1 tbls of almond oil, you can also use olive oil in conjunction with a few drops of essential oils. I used a few drops of each: Bergamont, Eucalyptus, Geranium and lemon oil.

These are highly concentrated plant essences which have antiviral properties. The best time to apply the tincture is at first sign of outbreak. It helped a lot with minimizing the itching (no pain was present at my second outbreak) and it dried up fairly fast and did not develop into a full blown outbreak.

I have now had shingles for the 20th time since I was 29 years old. It first occurred right after my daughter was born by C-section at the hospital. That was almost 35 years ago. I have taken the antiviral medication, Famvir, in the past 8 or so years and it does help reduce the pain, outbreakings, and time involved. I have been aware of the vaccination but have no information about clinical trials performed and the results in people with recurring shingles. Thus, I have not had the vaccination.

I have had shingles 7 times. I usually get the blisters, but not always. Some times I have just the pain. Now, my Drs. have me taking Acyclovir every day, cream to rub on my pain spots and also have the the pain patches. I feel the pain patches have helped me so very much. I also had the shingles shot a few years ago.

I have an elderly friend (93) who treated her shingles using Dial soap. It has been years since she has done this and hasn't had a recurrence since. In the shower, you lather up and wait 5 minutes then rinse. It may take more than one day to treat it. She doesn't know why it works but she has had several people try it on their shingles with much success and no reoccurence.

I had a case of shingles last year. I looked for anything non RX which would help. I read in several forums that both topical Apple Cider Vinegar and oral Apple Cider Vinegar were substantially helpful.

I had a band across my chest, which on occasion made it very painful to even breath. I decided to give it a try and within minutes of either the topical application, the pain was immediately relieved from a pain of about 8 on a 1-10 scale, down to about a 2.

I highly recommend anyone with shingles try this before any RX which "may or may not shorten the symptom duration."

As soon as i feel an outbreak of Shingles coming on, I take the amino acid Lysine, usually 1000 mg to start and then 500 mg until all symptoms are gone. I have used Twin Labs, Solgar and other well known and reliable brands. Caps or tabs. Neuralgic pain persisted after a serious bout, and a friend suggested 1000 mg of Lysine every 6 hours. This alleviated the pain.

Many years ago during my first, and mild, Shingles outbreak, a local health food store suggested taking a natural Vitamin B complex which helped with the pain and itching. Vit. B is water soluble and may only last 6-8 hours in the body, so it is necessary to take it every 6 hours. I used the 50 mg. or 100 mg. strength. That first Shingles situation was brought on by severe stress, so perhaps the Vit. B helped with that.

A doctor recommended staying away from chocolate and nuts and peanuts during Shingles outbreaks. If I eat more than a handful of a combination of dark chocolate and nuts in one day (so handy for a snack away from home) I will get the start of shingles and will take the Lysine. Peanut Butter is a food to avoid - some people find it brings on a recurrence of shingles.

I am still recovering from an outbreak of shingles below my left eyebrow. The pain was relentless. I asked a pharmacist what OTC product I could use and was told to buy Capzascin cream. The Capzascin provided immediate relief. There is some research available on the benefits of capsaicin (the main ingredient in Capzascin) for various neurological pain, including shingles.


When my husband was diagnosed with shingles the doctor gave him a series of shots, one a day for three days. I don't know what the shot was. The doctor also gave him a prescription for a topical medication. When we went to fill it, it was over $200. Day two, we reported this cost to the doctor, who was shocked. He then suggested clear Aloe Vera gel, applied liberally and often.

We bought a large generic bottle for less than $5.00 and it worked very well. Also, the doctor suggested dried peas that have been kept in the freezer. (Not frozen peas that thaw out!) We bought several bags of peas and beans to determine effectiveness. Split peas worked best on the face, across the eye area, but cooled off the quickest. Bigger bags of bigger beans worked for bigger areas.

They are cheap, so buy a few. They really worked well on alleviating the pain. You'll find they are useful for other "boo-boos" and are great to have on hand when you fear a flare up. And really, "take it easy" -- do it!

After my divorce, I got the Flu and then developed Shingles. Doc told me that I had 90 chances in 1 of getting it again. He was wrong. I got it again on the left side the second time... but not nearly as bad as the R side. Since I am Air Force/Army Medical Retired, I do "stockpile" some of my meds. I had extra and took them as required. Good Results! That was in '99.

After Hurricane Katrina, my feet started giving me fits. Burning, needle-like pain...FIRE...spasmodic pain episodes, uncontrollable. It continues to increase. Am on Tramadol and Gabapentin which also delivers VERY unpleasant GRAPHIC DREAMS of the MOST DISTURBING NATURE!

I have two "No No's"! I quit Cigs but started cigars to control the weight gain after I quit smoking. I like Beer. Don't get intox! I am self-employed and build Computers, repair, program, et al. Doc's appear to try to say I'm Alcoholic. I don't "hic, swallow that!

Three years ago I was NOT TAKING any meds as I don't believe in that crap! Not even a Tylenol! Now I have a Pharmacy. They test me and test me for Diabetes. Always negative. Maybe somewhat Hypoglycemic...

Any input out there in the Cloud? Would like to hear from like people.

I am 48 years old and just finished a bout with Shingles. My doctor gave me acyclovir and some narcotics for pain. He said there was nothing that could be topically applied to help with itching and burning. The pain in my jaw was excruciating and half of my face looked like I had been attacked by killer bees. I went to an acupuncturist who treated me for the pain (headache, ear, jaw and right eye) and gave me Yin Care Herbal Wash to put on the rash. The wash immediately took away the burning and consistent application (3xday) dried up the blisters quickly. Three acupuncture treatments were necessary to get rid of the pain, but I only had to suffer 2 and 1/2 weeks.

I get cold sores on and around my lips and am told it is a virus and I was wondering if anyone knew of a remedy or something to make them heal faster. I know it is a form of I herpes. I have found putting ice keeps the swelling down when they first bread out.

I used to get cold sores every winter. Several years ago my family and I went to Florida and because we had an extra refrigerator, we brought back boxes of navel oranges. I ate them all that winter and later realized that I didn't have one cold sore that whole winter. Now if I get an indication of one, I immediately go to the grocery store and buy 1 or 2 navel oranges and eat them right away. The cold sore goes away without any further problem.

So if I am having this pain and burning sination now is it to late to take the vaccine Zostavax? I live in Laguna Hills CA

I am experiencing shingles for the first time. Left side of forehead and down nasal side of eye. Doc says eye is Ok (so far). Taking the usual anti viral Acyclovir 4000mg a day for 7 days, 1000 mg lysine, and a glaucoma eye drop twice a day ( as a precaution for the eye).

I found using cold packs as often as you can and rubbing Jojoba oil on the blisters has done wonders. I am not having that much pain, although am having a few side affects from drugs. Diarrhea and headaches (mild). So far so good.

The Shingles Vaccine: Zostavax is now available at Walgreens and no prescription is required because a standing order exists. Just contact a local Walgreens to see which stores offer the vaccine nearby. It is also covered by Medicare PartD plans and Tricare. The best way to fight the pain is to prevent it from ever happening.

That's a great deal if Walgreens is giving the Zostavax without a prescription. I had a prescription when I got mine and still played hell trying to find a pharmacy that had it.

I would double check with your insurance company to make sure they pay for it--- cause it is awful expensive if they don't. Ask the pharmacist to run it thru and see if any charge comes up.

I am 65 years old and have suffered from shingle outburst for sometime. 3 days ago I went to the Walgreen's Clinic to get some help for a muscle spam which was very painful. When I learnt they had the Shingle's vaccine I got it. I have ADMed Medicare Plan and I paid only $20.00.

The unfortunate outcome was that I got the shingles as a result. It is inside, very painful and it attacked the area that I was seeking treatment for, my left back and shoulder. Without warning it attacks by sending electrical discharges to my left arm. Very painful. I scream, I cry. I try to explain what I am feeling to my husband but I cannot find consolation or relief to my pain and grief.

This continues to a longer story because I went to the Cleveland Clinic for emergency treatment because quite frankly I felt I had a broken back rib or something really bad. I could not make the physician understand the complication between the muscle spam, stress coupled with the shingles episode.

I left with a wrong diagnosis, an unnecessary neck x-rays because the physician insisted the pain originated in my neck. I could not convince him that it was not in my neck. At the end, the x-ray results were fine and he gave me an appointment to see a
spine specialist. It was ridiculous because I do not even know what my copayment
is going to be for the emergency room plus the x rays.

He gave me narcotics for the pain and a muscle relaxer. I am not even going to get them because the shingles outburst took over and through my body off control. I am very depressed, hurtful and I cannot bear the pain. It is too much I cannot take it. It is sending repeated attacks of electrical shots to my arm, shoulders and back. I feel that no one understand my pain and suffering with this dreaded disease. Thank you for listening.

Elvira l == look in your Physicians/Providers guide & see if there are any Dermatologists listed & give them a call & ask them if they handle SEVERE SHINGLE CASES?

If you don't get a satisfactory answer call your insurance company and tell them what is happening and see what they suggest. Always ask for a Supervisor when you are talking to them.

In fact maybe you should do that first before you start calling doctors.

I am really sorry to hear that story. My mother is in same pain and she is same age as you. She got shingles attack in August and now she is having pain around left shoulder and arm. To make things worse ..she is having pain on her right side (front)around and below the chest. Do you think it's spreading or do you have the same pain on both sides?
Thanks for your help!

I doubt this will make it past the screener, but here goes anyway. You say you continue to take meds which are not solving your problem(s). A more natural approach might work better. Things I've tried which I believe are working for me are: 1) Vitamins D and C; 2) An anti-inflammatory diet; 3) Electrolytes Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium; 4) Anti-inflammatory herbs turmeric, black pepper, and ground cloves. If you have any questions, get back to me.



Have had one attack of shingles in the past, used traditional therapy, which was mediocre at best.
I continue through the years to have a small outbreak of what could be best described of a dime size outbreak of a shingles like set of pustules.
What has worked amazingly well for me is to take the l-lysine (I use Carlson and use the dosage they recommended), but also make a paste of it with water and place it on the area, which gives almost immediate relief from the burning and pain.

Wonder what it would do for shingles?? I can't tell since I haven't had but one attack and didn't use it then. Hopefully someone else can try and let us know.
I also use it when cats have respiratory problems or getting sick, learned that from a cat refuge and it works great for them also.

I just spoke to a Walgreen's pharmacist 3 days ago (around Jan., 14, 2012) and he gave me updated information that is in conflict with what you posted Tamara J. He said that it was a Kansas State law that he could not administer the shingles vaccination to anyone under the age of 50 with or without a prescription. I am 43 and he told me my only option was to go to my Dr's office to get the vaccine and thereby use my health ins. for coverage. Bad news, for under 50 years of age infected people - most insurance co.'s do not cover the vaccine and it runs anywhere between $150 to $300 for vaccination.

Has anyone ever had a shingles outbreak directly after taking a course of an antibiotic named Avelox? I took this after a Z-pack did not completely get me over an ear and sinus infection. My Dr.'s comment was, "This anti-biotic will kill anything..." Just wondered if anyone else experienced a suppressed immune system after taking this new antibiotic. Would appreciate any comments. Thanks, Renee

I got the shingles vaccine ..... as a result, I am on my second bout of itching, burning, tingling skin. I have no rash so they won't diagnose it as shingles. I feel sure that it's from the vaccine. I may be experiencing the Post Herpetic Neuralgia pain that comes after the initial attack. They cannot say for sure that every individual will react the same way to the vaccine. It's a horrible experience and I don't know how long it will go on.... I would, not recommend the vaccine to anyone.

For the past month I have had the itching and severe pain associated with shingles but no rash. Both my Dr. and the ER Dr. said you could not have shingles without the rash, so I have had x-rays, CAT Scan and an ultrasound, which were all normal. I checked the Mayo Clinic website and they said you certainly can have the shingles without the rash. If this is so, why don't the Dr.s know about this? I have not had any medication and have suffered terribly. And what makes this even worse is that I am 80 years old and can't stand as much as I could when I was younger. I did have the vaccine about one year ago.

In 2009, I had my first experience of the shingles and it was on my buttocks..the left side..very painful. I thought that a spider had bitten me but after seeing my doctor, he said that it was a shingle. I got meds and finally it did go away.

Then 2011, I got another bout on my buttocks again, but this time, it was on my right and left buttock cheek..The pain starts with a burning sensation, rough after the blisters pop and pain goes from my buttock cheek down my leg and into the lower leg. Again, I showed my Doctor and he took good care of me.

Then this year about a week ago. I have the burning sensation in the same area that broke out on the right and left buttock cheek and painful but more painful on my right side all the way down to my left leg. The pain is unbearable.

I will go see my doctor again. I was waiting for the breaking out to happen first. It has not happened yet. Is this unusual for a person to have shingles on their buttocks? Thank you for letting me share.

4-24-2012: I will be 68 in May. I had my 1st shingles outbreak in my THROAT when I was in 10th grade and they have returned to my THROAT several times since then. Primarily though, mine have been on left SCIATIC nerve which site is massive when broken out larger than my entire hand, very hot, very swollen and then as many as 10-15 smaller "babied" from there and along spine, a few down the back of left leg. Because of being on sciatic nerve when this one breaks out I cannot walk properly.

About two years ago they appeared on right sciatic nerve, along right side of spine and down back of right leg. Primarily both sciatic nerves with sites bigger than my hand from sciatic nerve alone and both sides CAN AND DO break out at SAME time; when this happens I am bedfast as they subside I can be mobile with assistance of cane but it is very dangerous as my legs are not reliable, at all for walking.

What has made my case so rare is now I keep shingles 24/7, 365 days/nights a year. They will go beneath skin from time to time but they NEVER heal completely, showing continual red in surface area and the slightest daily irritant from daily living... becoming overly tired, or overly excited even in a good way, will bring them back out within hours of them having gone beneath surface and always with more "babies" each outbreak. Severe chills and fevers, nausea, always precede my outbreaks. Moving air across my body is excruciating, anything touching my skin excruciating. I am some times bedfast for days. My shingles have been biopsied. I have been to three different dermatologist, neurologist.

I too, use pain patches, Hydrocodone, roll-on Capsasin, epsom salt "patches". CDC told me personally they would NOT recommend the vaccine as mine are too progressed and I have had them for too long. I continually research to find out why do I keep them non-stop. Just weeks ago I found via Google where new reports released last year show studies now have linked repeated shingles outbreaks to MS. I do have numerous MS symptoms but I also have Fibromyalgia since high school -- back then it was called Myositis 11-1961 diagnosis. MRI of spine inclusive for MS; however, did show total degeneration of entire spine especially just above and below waist.

I am in physical therapy for inability to walk properly. Physical therapist asked if I had ever had blood test for Vitamin D deficiency? She said studies show Vitamin D deficiency is linked to Shingles, MS, Hypothroid since 1960s which I also have and numerous other autoimmune problems. Normal levels Vitamin D are low normal 30 to optimum 96. My level was 8. I was put on STAT massive dosage 500,000 units daily for 1 week and then 1 500,000 each week (total 10 capsules) until finished and then follow-up blood work. Prior to PT info no doctor had ever mentioned this before.

I pray with all my heart that this might -- just might put an end to the continual flareups thus giving me remissions of shingles and remission of Fibro. Because both are non-stop I have spent a lot of time in bed and not very productive. I am so tired -- LOL, tired does not even begin to describe it! Even if it does not work at least for time being I am experiencing some "positivity" instead of the continual negativity, depression that goes with the continual pain and exhaustion and debilitation of continual, non-stop for the most part, of my shingles and Fibro flareups.

I would not wish Shingles on the devil himself!

Yes, here is someone who also knows all about having shingles on buttocks. Don't give up. Don't give up. I'll admit, I considered the alternative because of the non-stop excruciating pain. I had never had anything really strong but I have no choice now because of all the disc in my spine protruding and the continual shingles and fibro I had to have something for pain. Pain never stops but with med I can now get enough relief I can be functional and productive for longer periods of time. I will let you know how the Vitamin D treatment goes.
My prayers are with you all. Don't give up!
Sincerely, PJ

I had an out break between the buttocks... not diagnosed but doc said 90 percent sure but the whole buttock hurt 2 days before so bad, like you said I thought I got bitten by a spider too. I'm actually having the tingle burning sensation today and looking for some natural herbs to take.

Pj thanks for sharing your story. Very touching and I hope things start looking up for you! I have been having signs and looking for natural remedies and I read your story and when I hear things that sound familiar to people that have signs of something I have I always just give them a heads up to maybe to look into. I have celiac disease and people with ms and fibramialga (how ever you spell) are really common to have it. Also having the deficiencies are way common with celiac. I have iron problems and that makes me feel the way you do... tired don't describe it!

I have also had shingles and one of the lucky ones that got the nerve damage the second time around. I still have pain but now in different areas of my body. I understand exactly what you are describing for pain. I have been put on meds for my fibromyalgia but nothing helps. I feel as if I have shingles inside my body but there is no way to treat this. Keep after your doctor to give you some meds for the pain, although at this point I am self treating my pain. Best to all of you.

At age 70+ I recently had a (in my mind severe) outbreak of shingles for the first time. It affected the left side of the back of my neck, left shoulder and some on my left upper chest area and also down the left midline of my back to about 1/3 the distance to my waist. I also had a mild left-side earache and some discomfort on swallowing on the left side of my throat for about a week. Still present is a periodic deep ache in my left shoulder joint.

I took Famciclovir twice a day for 7 days starting about 48 hours from the first visible signs of the lesions. I recall having had some left underarm skin sensitivity and an itchy back, some unusual tiredness and loose bowels and feeling generally out-of-sorts for a week or so prior to the outbreak.

It has been over three weeks since the outbreak and while few of the red spots are still apparent my skin feels as though I am in the 2nd day of a severe sunburn on the affected areas and I have intense periods of burning, itching skin several times a day.

Calamine type anti-itch clear lotion helps control the itch and make the skin feel better for about 20 minutes. Then discomfort returns. I find that 400mg of ibuprofen about every 8 hours damps the discomfort down to a tolerable level. In the past several years I refused the Zostavax several times, reasoning that since I had not heard of a single member of my extended family coming down with shingles I was probably genetically 'immune'. Wrong! Now I am a vocal advocate for the vaccine to all who have had Chicken Pox and not had the Zostavax vaccine.

I got shingles in April 2011 and it was the worst thing I have ever had to deal with. They were on the left side of my upper face and in.. on my nose. I had episodes of uncontrollable crying, a burn so severe that I thought some one just poured acid on my face my ear was severely swollen and caused me to see shooting flashes of colorful light out my head.

My episodes caused me to go to the emergency room after 3 weeks of 20-22 of these a day. The er Dr. saw one of them and said there was nothing he could do for me. Told me he had never seen any thing like it before. So he said go see a neurologist. I guess I was so tired of the pain I wanted him to fix me right then. He couldn't. I went back to my regular Dr. he showed me why my shingles were causing what I was experiencing and it made sense but didn't help my shingles.

So we are now may 2012 and I still have the nerve pain but no more episodes. Yes at times very very bad pain.

Had a severe case of shingles on my left genital area. Did not go to doctor until Monday though symptoms started on Friday afternoon. Medications did not help--too late. Did find some relief with Gigartina capsules. Still have very mild irritation in the area.

How much do you rub on the area, do you mix the 2 or can you use either one?

I have had severe pain for 3 weeks. I have been in the hospital for 7 days and the Dr. still did not know what was wrong with me because I did not break out.

My daughter, who works in the medical field, asked the doctor if he thought it could be shingles, and he said well it could be. He began to give me the medicine Acyclovir and I started to feel better. I still have some pain but not as bad as before taking Acyclovir.

I am now taking my second round of the medicine of 35 pills. I have had 3 kids and am now 63 yrs old and never had the pain I have had in the past 3 weeks.

I would encourage you to try some L lysine, both by mouth and to make a paste to put on the site. Topical application works almost instantly. It is very inexpensive (can obtain either online or at health food store) and that is all I use for a local outbreak at the base of my spine that breaks out sporadically. I've had one case of shingles and it follows the same appearance as the other. I also lay off of peanuts and chocolate during an outbreak, L lysine is recommended for cold sores, another member of the herpes family, and Shingles is caused by the herpes virus.
Hope this helps,
An RN (71 years old and still practicing in an ER)

I have been suffering with back pain for a while and I was seeing a pain specialist, he decided that I needed lower facet joint injections to relieve the pain, so I went ahead and had the injections, a week later I lost the use of my left leg and two days after that I developed a very painful rash running from my side all the way round to my front on both sides of my body.

I was in hospital for 2 weeks and had both oral and IV antiviral drugs for shingles, but two and a half months on I still have no use of my left leg and severe pain in my back, I am currently on paracetomol, codeine, morphine and the highest dose of pregabalin that I can take, and trust me I'm fed up and need some answers as to whether the injections activated the shingles virus. PLEASE HELP

A dentist had placed me on a low dose antibiotic which has always had the tendency to lower my immune system. Antibiotics have always played havoc with my immune system and I always seem to trade one problem for another when I take them.

I at first rejected the idea that I had shingles as neither my mother nor I ever recall my having had chicken pox. Must have had a very mild case at some point.

My shingles first manifested as if I had a pulled muscle on my back and then as a painful knot on my spine. I do lift weights and thought it was a simple muscle strain. Applications of heat/cold and gentle stretching seemed to help. 

It finally became painful enough that I got a deep tissue massage. Possibly the worst thing I could have done at that time. While it seemed to help for a few hours the pain came roaring back a few hours later. It was now in a wide band extending from the knot in my spine under my arm to the center of my chest. At this point I thought I was having a heart attack.

It was so painful that air moving over it hurt intensely. My shirt moving over it was agonizing. To sleep it was more comfortable to lay on that side than to have a T-shirt move over it when I breathed.

I went to a doctor in the same day I had my first outward signs of a rash. The doctor could just make out the first red pinpricks under my arm. For those of you that have a full blown rash my heart go out to you. He did the usual injection, the patches, and the prescriptions.

I was able to identify five separate and distinct types of pain.

After several days of wearing the patches I noticed that while the patches helped with the pain the blisters under the patches seemed more inflamed then the ones I missed.

I did away with the patches and started using an array of different topical ointments at different times of the day. These included a vitamin C, a vitamin E, emu oil and aloe vera. The rash is almost completely gone but it took several weeks.

The best thing that I took for dealing with the pain is Advil.

I am now dealing with the lingering nerve pain. I am taking orally vitamin C and E and slightly higher than suggested RDA. I am also taking probiotics, a multi vitamin and lysine. Today I am going to have a vitamin B complex shot.

I don't think there are any quick fixes for shingles. About the only thing I did not try was capsaicin while I had the blisters. Now that the skin has mostly healed I will try a capsaicin cream to see if it will help with the lingering pain.

These is just my experience so far: I think my early decision to see a doctor helped to minimize the pain, as bad as it was. I also do not see any scaring possibly due to the range of ointments I used.

All I can say is there is light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that the best way to avoid a reoccurrence of shingles is to build up your immune system and avoid stress. Good luck.

About six weeks after I had the shingles vaccine my feet started to hurt to the point I was having trouble walking. I thought my orthotics needed to be adjusted, so I quit wearing them.

We drove to Florida the next week and every time we stopped for gas the pain in my feet and then my knees and legs increased. I took it easy for the week and seemed to improve, but as soon as we returned home and I started back to work (housecleaning) I struggled with the pain and stiffness.

Went to the Dr last week and she is running tests for Lymes, arthritis other things like these. Went to the Chiropractor today and she said she thinks it is a reaction to the shingles shot-symptoms people get after they actually have shingles (called poly-myalgia rhumatica (sp?). I have done extensive research and can't find anyone else who is reporting these side effects. Anyone else experiencing this?

I am 16 and I have shingles. I am just wondering how long the pain will last, it is getting to the point where I can barely put on a shirt or walk anywhere. Please any info would be helpful.

As a follow up I have now tried vitamin B12 shots which gave a slight improvement in the pain level.

I have also tried the massive vitamin C program as suggested on some websites. Did not notice any marked improvement with vitamin C although it may help in the long run.

The biggest improvement make in the lasting pain for me seems to be capsaion cream.

Do not use this stuff while you still have blisters. Wash your hands well after applying it. Be ready for a sensation of heat. Do not get it in your eyes. The best way I have found of cutting the heat if it becomes unbearable is to apply emu cream.

Good luck


I hope you're feeling better now. Shingles and stress generally go together, so while you're young (and all the rest of us, it's not too late), learn a daily way to cultivate peace, a refuge for yourself inside and out, and consider writing down any problems or worries in a journal--also the good stuff!

Time in nature, singing, your favorite colors and music, growing a garden and having some kind of personal art--guitar playing or painting or woodworking--help build up the immune system and the happiness you came here to flow into other people and the planet, who also needs good medicine from us all, these days.

All shall be well!


I was told I was suffering from RA pains and to go home and suffer, then I went to the ER in agony and they did an X-ray and said I had a trapped nerve, which delayed my diagnosis of Shingles in my sciatic nerve. The pain got worse every day and the rash appeared down my leg, I was given Aciclovir but it has left me with a numb leg, from my bum to my toe. The Dr has now given me Gabapentin which hasn't relieved the pain or numbness- now my leg feels tingly and heavy. I am wondering if they is anyone out there that can help me feel normal again. Willing to try anything that this stage as I have been ill since January 6th. Help!

I am 30 years old and I had shingles about six months ago. The rash was on the back right side of my skull, which became very swollen and sensitive before the rash showed up. I was scared to death of what it might be. I also had a really high fever accompanying the rash. I was out of sorts for a couple of weeks, kind of disoriented and weak.

It slowly went away and things got back to normal but I still get shooting pains in the area the rash blew up. They come and go but when it comes it feels like I'm getting stabbed in the back of the head and it isn't pretty. I don't want to be taking pain medication because of the side effects and the addictive nature of it so I just deal with it and hope it goes away.

Hi I have a similar problem with the loss of use in my left leg after having facet joint injections and developing shingles, I now take max dose of pregabalin (similar to gabapentin) also paracetomol and duloxetine have been like this for 6 months now with no sign of improvement. Hope you find something that works x

Try LYSINE, it does fight the virus, start taking at least 1000mg. at first hint of a cold sore, do that for 3 days or so, then go down to 500mg. if you use it daily, supposedly you won't get the sores, but I think it's more like "significantly reduced" and the sores go away much faster. Buttermilk also works, drink it at first sign of the virus, I know everyone hates buttermilk, but I'm a Slovak,1st generation American, and I was raised on it, it helps, and it's yummy!

I just today got my first Shingles attack, so anyone know what to do or not do? I would just rather not go to the Dr., but my sister says the virus can blind you or paralyze you if untreated (what is this crap?!) I had chickenpox, and I'm only 39, so help, PLEASE!

Ma'am, please, if you still are having the pain, TAKE the narcotics, they WILL help with the pain, help with the stress, sleep, and such, it is more difficult to get addicted if you are taking it for something than just fun, it does help. I am onstrong pain killers for arthritis, and have been for years, I also just got shingles, I am not sure how bad the pain gets, but the medication has been as LIFESAVER for me! I really do need it, and it helps with the suffering, I pray you will be ok.

Can I still get a shingles shot even though I had the shingles, Can you get a shot while you have the shingles pain?

I came down with the shingles about a year ago and had them on the right side of my belly for about 6 months before they went away, then I had to have my gall bladder removed about two months ago then I got the shingle pain again,no blisters just the real bad pain at times, I take alcovair 2 times a day, have been taking it ever since I first came down with the shingles, I use the medicated patches which help some and have the pain medication Gabitain.

I just want some relief from the constant pain.

Thank you
Albert Campbell

Please help I am a 56 years old woman and had shingles 5 years ago but it not get the rash they said is in the muscle the left side of by back right on the left shoulder and lower of the shoulder this is so pain full.
This time again it been one week with the same symptom on the same side please let me now if there is any other method to cure this pain. Thank you maria

Well, I was so happy to find this site since I am experiencing my 4th time with shingles. My own doctor told me she had them five times... first time in college when it was exam time. She then told me, she had always had trouble with her tonsils and she finally had them taken out. Seems they were weakening her immune system. She is in a late forties, if that, now. The info I want pass on, is that peanut butter, chocolate, ICE CREAM will cause my rash to fester up again even if it looks almost healed. Pay attention to what you eat and you will find the foods that irritate it more.

I have tried everything except the lysine mentioned above. I do know taht if you put ice packs on the affected areas, not only will it stop the pain..itching but even once you remove the ice, it will remain "calm". I get the shingles on areas of my body that I did not have them before nor where I had the chicken pox.

I was going to get the vaccine but after reading some of the above, I am not sure. I think I may try it on an area I already have had the shingles on.

What did people do years ago without the meds like Acyclovin?

May1, 2013 I went to the Dr after 4 days of the worst headache ever.. He diagnosed it as a sinus infection. I was given an antibiotic but nothing for pain.

The next day I went to the Er as I was still in unbearable pain. They said I had a migraine.

The next day I broke out with a rash on my left side of forehead. I called my DR office and they said to go to ER. Went to the ER and was diagnosed with shingles. The rash cleared up after a couple weeks.

Some days the pain wasn't very strong and I could tolerate just taking ibuprofen. Now it is 6 weeks since and. Am back totaling hydrocodones as the pain the last few days has been unbearable.

I don't understand why I thought I was getting better and now the pain is so much worse. Until tonight when I decided to search som more on shingles.

A friend had told me my immune system was low and to raise it, eat a chocolate bar every day. So for the past week I have been eating a Hershey bar each day. Now I read his forum and it says no chocolate, nuts or peanut butter. Oh my what have I did to myself.

As of today none of the above will be in my diet and I will start taking the lysine and see if things improve. I will keep you posted. Thanks for all the info.

I am 69 years old and just got shingles for the first time. I got them on my leg. I always thought they affected only your body (like chest, back, abdomen etc.) Anyway the pain was horrible, worse pain I've ever felt. I got like a rash but no bubbles. The shingles have affected the nerve endings in my leg and I still have pins and needles and burning on my leg. I am on Lyrica, and a cream 3x a day.

I am being treated by doctors and getting PT. Is there anything new out there for pain? And how long will this pain last. It is very debilitating and depressing. So I can sympathize with the people who come down with this awful virus. Hope there are more studies going on and they come up with something worthwhile to stop this pain!!!!

got the shingles in Oct of 2011...on my left breast, going under my arm to my back. have not taken a full shower since, I need to bounce the shower head water off the wall of the shower. always in discomfort.

I had my first shingles outbreak after my first childs birth which was a c-section. The outbreaks are on my finger. I have found that anytime I eat peanut butter I have an outbreak. Alxo chocolate can sometimes trigger it. What has helped ease my pain and sometimes even stop the blistering is soaking the outbreak in apple cider vinegar, I even add apple cider vinegar to water and drink it. Also I've found soaking the outbreak in breast milk to almost 100% ease the pain.

But I think inasmuch as vaccination is a brilliant idea, there are so many people out there who are a bit skeptical about it's dangers and I believe that more education should be done on the positives of shingles vaccination. Thanks so much for sharing this information anyway

my first experience w shingles was high on my right buttock, 2nd. same place on the left side, third same place back on the right side. then same place back on right side. then my right neck then my right check.

how much did you take?

Is there any research hospital or new studies on non blistering shingles pain

People's Pharmacy response: There are two on this list:

My friend gets them all the time and as soon as she feels it coming on she puts deodorant on it and clears it right up. I don't know what brand of deodorant.

I had shingles in May 2014, after 3 weeks when all blisters were cleared, I started feeling burning pain on the area -- my left forehead, around the left eye--where I had blisters. Any suggestion to get rid of this continuous pain ? I had 1 week FAMVIR --3 times a day 500mg capsules and doctor gave me Tylenol #3 as a pain killer.

Opthamologist checked my eye 2 times and its good every way. She checked my eye last time after 4 weeks and said there is some virus in your eye to and she said let it heel itself for 2 weeks otherwise I would put you on FAMVIR for some more time. Any suggestion on getting rid of this burning pain would be appreciated.

I had my 2nd outbreak of shingles this year 2014 & I'm only 28. The doctor prescribed valtrax & prednidone. Couple of days later I had excruciating lower back pain. Felt like my kidneys were about to explode. Is that a symptom of shingles? My flare up on my inner thigh went away but now I have nerve pain in my buttocks, legs, & sometimes upper body. It seems like it affected most of my nerve endings. Still contemplating whether I should get the vaccine. I work in a pharmacy so we do have it & my job may cover the costs.

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