Q. I recently developed shingles and the pain was excruciating. My doctor was slow to diagnose the problem because I didn’t have blisters. Once I got a prescription for acyclovir, the pain became bearable. Please tell your readers to get a quick diagnosis so they can get fast relief from this medicine.

A. Acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir are all antiviral medicines that work against cold sores and shingles. The sooner they are taken, the better they work.

Getting the diagnosis of shingles may seem straightforward but it can be tricky, as a recent column in The New York Times demonstrates.

Some readers who were not diagnosed quickly enough to benefit from an antiviral medicine have reported that applying original Listerine mouthwash to the rash can help ease the pain. Others have deliberately sought out bee stings or used green tea on the rash to ease the pain. You could read more about these home remedies in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. k.e.

    I have shingles on my back, which are constantly painful.
    I am hoping to see an MD today, but am also interested in your testimony.
    How did you use the Geranium Oil?
    Was it an essential oil?
    Diluted with water?
    How applied and how often?
    Thank you so much,

  2. k.e.

    How often did you use the white vinegar?
    Did you dilute it?
    Did it also help mitigate the pain?

  3. RG

    I used Geranium Oil and my rash never broke the skin. Fragrance was soothing besides.

  4. MLB

    Better yet, get the shingles vaccine!! After watching my mother suffer, I made a beeline to the doctor. I have a friend with permanent nerve damage from this excruciating condition.

  5. JLC

    When I was 12 years old in the late 1950’s I had the shingles and there was no drug available to help alleviate the pain. The suggestion made by the pediatrician was to lay a hot water bottle on the shingles. Since they were on my midsection it was easy to use and gave me such relief that I was able to sleep and the water bottle was my best friend until the shingles dried up.

  6. Nancy

    White vinegar is the best thing for shingles. I had them on half my head, face and chin and I washed with white vinegar and the second day they were drying up. By the end of the week everything was gone. My doctor was shocked when his cream didn’t work and the vinegar did.

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