shingles rash

Q. L-lysine works for cold sores, and I believe it can ease shingles too. I was plagued with cold sores and then developed a shingles rash. I’ve had success in both cases with large doses of L-lysine.

Everyone I have told to try this has gotten benefit. But when I have given this information to doctors, they basically said I was nuts and there was no medical literature to confirm my findings. Well, some day they may catch up.

A. Do not hold your breath. Viruses in the herpes/chickenpox family cause both cold sores and shingles, but there have been few studies on the use of L-lysine for these infections. One study from Russia demonstrated positive results with a topical preparation (Antibiotics and Chemotherapy, Nov. 2003). Since few American doctors or scientists are following the Russian literature, it is unlikely to stimulate further investigation.

In the meantime, we have received reports from other readers who have also gotten relief from the pain of shingles by taking L-lysine. One said:

“Some time ago I had shingles on the side of my face. A druggist friend of ours recommended L-lysine and it worked.” Another reported: “After 24 hours taking L-lysine following each meal, I was able to reduce my narcotic pain reliever for shingles. I now have very little nerve pain, and the lesions are starting to dry up. L-lysine has been a godsend.”

You can read how people have used bee-sting therapy, green tea or Listerine to help ease the pain of shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Kirsten
    San Jose

    I used to get recurring shingles. Supplementing with Lysine changed my life. To the doctors who say there is no shred of evidence that lysine works: I am evidence!

    I cannot eat chocolate, nuts, oatmeal, hummus, orange juice, gelatin and other high-arginine foods, but if I cheat and the shingles starts to come back, lysine will make it go away much faster than before. Lysine also stops cold sores in their tracks.

  2. Don S

    I first found that I have shingles about five months ago, I went to my Doctor and she confirmed that I had Shingles without the normal outer rash. I must say shingles is very painful and I found the pain did effect my work efford, it made me tired.

    The doctor I attended in regard to the shingles said, she had never seen a patient before with internal shingles (no outer rash) she did give me some pills to take for pain relief Nortriptyline HCL Ta 10 mg (NOR MYL), I had to take once daily in early evening, they were no much help to me.

    A lot of the pain has gone from were it first started, which was in my shoulder area, it even went around my back area as well, it seems to have made its home in the scared area’s where I have had a operation.

    Of late, I have been taking three tables of Lysine each day, and the intensity of the pain has been reduced quite a lot, some scar area’s have had now no pain at all, which is pleasing.

    I did attend another doctor in regard to still having Shingles two weeks ago and he said he had shingles and it lasted with him ten months, he was a very fit guy and his health was very good, his age was 55.

    I’m coming up 72 this May and I keep good health, I have a asthma problem I keep it under good control, I have read that one getting shingles you are suppose to be run down but I am not.

    West Virginia

    I had a terrible case of shingles~! Caused by eating too many WALNUTS on a low carb diet. I had a Rx which was no silver bullet~! I read Robert Rodale & went out & bought L-LYSINE. I took a gram twice a day. In 24 hours, the pain subsides & the rash begins to dry up~! Trust me–this works. With no side effects from L-Lysine~! Highly recommended.

    • Elizabeth

      Yes, exactly. The reason this works is because Chocolate, nuts (walnuts for ex.), seeds even and peanut butter (I think not sure on the peanut butter but pretty sure) all have ample arginine and what balances out arginine is lysine which is found in milk and peaches and yes in tablets and capsules thankfully:) Ever wonder why having milk with chocolate tastes so good? They balance each other out arginine in the chocolate and lysine in the milk; I discovered that over time based on what they each contain etc. Many know that those four items above contain arginine however and it is recommended to stop eating those things when you fear and outbreak of shingles or I recommend in the heat of the Summer when i typically get the shingles or chicken pox that it has been after eating pecans, walnuts, chocolate and it has been super super hot for a period of time. Also don’t forget to apply raw apple cider vinegar to the shingles. I should try it on the chicken pox sores too and btw I used melaleuca oil for the itching of my chicken pox sores last night and it relieved the itching…I know it is good for mosquito and spider bites etc. to relieve itching. (Melaleuca trees and their leaves are found mostly in Australia and in Florida I have heard). Hope this helps.

      • Peggy

        To Elizabeth in Montana,
        I have followed your instructions for 12 hours and am already experiencing a profound difference. Thank you for making my life easier!

  4. d

    I developed what seemed like adult acne. Everyone was telling me it was from stress and lack of sleep (guilty). I went to the dermatologist and he gave me antibiotics. The very little help they offered was not worth what antibiotics do in the long run. I was talking to a neighbor and mentioned my plight with these small areas of ruptures that would become raw and not healing. He said to take l-lysine and sent me home with some from his stock of vitamins. In one day the rawness began to subside and in the week I was healed! I cannot say I have shingles as they starts as a classic pimple with a white head that bulges. Everyone that I know that has had shingles say they are a rash that is excruciating. These are not. They hurt like a pimple does but that is it. Since then, I have to take 2-3000 mg a day or I get it back. It has been 8 months now. I get the same reaction of being nutz when I told my Dr. So what do I have and why does l-lysine work to the point of me having to be dependent in it everyday? Anybody out there have the same?

  5. Eleanor
    Redlands. CA

    If it works, use it!

  6. Viv

    L-Lysine is great for canker sores and Polymorphus Light Eruption, as you can imagine living in South Texas can be brutal. I have had it most summers for 43 years, only get it on my upper arms, and legs. I up the mgs for a few days and the rash goes away, however the “stains” like wine stains take a bit to go away. My young son got shingles on his back and upper torso, he is only 29 but it was stress related. He was on Valtrex and I told him to up his L-Lysine, Biotin and Zinc, that helped him heal quicker.

  7. Lyndsay
    Mother Earth

    Abreva applied to the skin may help stop the spread of a developing rash and assist in faster healing of a present rash. Lysine helps for any herpes related viral infection, however buy a good brand 1000mg min. I felt a cold sore coming on and stumbled into a GNC (for convenience of location I usually Amazon my supplements or go to Mother’s Market) I was shocked at the quality of their lysine (can’t vouch for other supplements tho) I took it and immediately felt the tingle diminish. I no longer take Acyclovir as the Lysine and Abreva at first sign stops the infection BAM!!! :) FYI, my sores had spread up into my nostril at one point ugly, and painful!!!!

  8. Abigail

    If you don’t get good results from taking Lysine for shingles itching and pain, perhaps switching to a different brand would help and also taking enough at one time. For the pain I had to start with 1,000 mg. and taper off to 500 mg. taken 3x a day. Some brands say take between meals and some with meals.
    Eating peanut butter can bring on that shingles feeling for me. I go for the Lysine to head off an attack. I also find a natural and strong B vitamin complex is helpful taken every 8 hours.
    There is an effective antiviral medicine for shingles now which helps. A prescription is needed. A naturopathic physician or reliable natural supplement source can recommend a homeopathic OTC remedy for the peripheral nerve pain.
    After being on a strong antibiotic regimen I started having hive reactions to something that have continued for a year afterwards. My doctor says absolutely not shingles, but I have found that taking Lysine does help to prevent the spread and intensity. ???
    By the way, Lysine and vitamin B complex for shingles were recommended to me by a natural foods shop owner 40 years ago after a doctor said nothing could be done.

  9. JT

    I had shingles few years ago. I mixed hand lotion (the brand is not important) with extra hot red chile pepper powder (I live in NM, so it’s easy to get it). I put some on rash and covered with paper towels to not stain the clothing. I did this 2-3 times a day for several days till the pain was gone. If you can’t get extra hot or hot red chile pepper powder try cayenne.

  10. Kristin

    Regarding shingles and L-Lysine: My father got shingles on his face and waited for over a week to go to the doctor. His pain was excruciating as the sores spread over half his face and onto his scalp. He was not one to listen to my advice, and so refused to take L-Lysine and cayenne. Even though the sores went away eventually, the pain lasted the rest of my father’s life.
    Here is a different side to my experience with shingles. After my father died, I took care of my mother (in her 90s) for 5 years. One day she complained about the side of her torso hurting. I saw no redness or bruises, and also noticed that if I pressed firmly on the area it hurt her less than if I touched it lightly. I immediately suspected shingles and within 5 minutes had given my mother both L-Lysine and cayenne capsules.
    I called the doctor and he was not able to see my mother until the next afternoon. I continued giving my mother L-Lysine every two hours, and even woke her up at night to take more. The next day her pain was decreased noticeably. The doctor diagnosed shingles, and said I’d done exactly the right thing by giving her repeated doses of L-Lysine and Cayenne. He prescribed an anti-viral (Acyclovir, I believe), told me to keep my mother on the L-Lysine and Cayenne, and within 4 days she had no pain at all.
    She never developed any rash. The doctor told me that had I been one of his medical students, he would have given me an A+++++. I only wish my father had been willing to listen to me and spared himself ten years of pain. So, if you suspect shingles, take L-Lysine IMMEDIATELY. Do not wait for it to take a firm hold in your system.

  11. Mr Walt

    I had suffered from Shingles for some time & stumbled on info about L-Lysine (don’t remember where). I have taken 500mg twice a day ever since & have not had any more Shingles outbreaks for several years. While it may not work for everyone it certainly is inexpensive enough to try. It probably has other benefits also, besides not being a drug with pages of side effects.

  12. zqicvs

    I wonder if L-Lysine would help decrease the numbness and or pain caused by idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. Is there someone out there who has tried it for this condition? And the dosage, would the writer of the article please tell us the dose of L-Lysine he or she used to treat the nerve pain from her bout with singles?

  13. Lisa

    I too came down with Shingles. L-lysine with some other vitamins worked instantly. I never developed any pain or itching and the rash disappeared within two weeks. Years later my husband came down with Shingles and the same regimen worked for him as well. When I mentioned it to my doctor, she said it was a coincidence and she did not believe I had Shingles, although my Dermatologist had diagnosed it…..
    To this day we both take 3 L-lysine capsules a week and it has cleared up my husband’s cold sores completely.

  14. BobK

    My wife is going on her 4th year of postherpetic neuralgia pain from shingles. She has tried just about everything under the sun with no relief. L-lysine did nothing for her pain. If you got relief then count your blessings.

    • Eddy

      I’ve helped my Mom’s PHN symptoms with Topricin cream & Acupuncture but it’s not a permanent cure, unfortunately.

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