Other Treatments for Shingles

Comfort Measures for Managing Pain and Itching

Compresses and Baths

Some people find that the following treatments are soothing to their itchy, painful skin rash:

  • Ice or Cold Compresses—can be applied to the rash for five minutes at a time, several times a day
  • Compresses Soaked in Burrow’s Solution (Domeboro)—can be applied to the rash for five minutes at a time, several times a day
  • Oatmeal Baths—can improve itching, although some people find that the warmth increases their itching

Elastic Bandages

Some people experience a lot of pain and discomfort from the light touch of their clothing across the area of their skin rash. Although you should keep the area uncovered most of the time to promote drying of the rash, talk to your healthcare provider about covering the most sensitive areas of the rash with an elastic (Ace) bandage if you are having difficulty sleeping due to hypersensitivity of the rash. It must be wrapped loosely to prevent constriction of blood flow.

Special Considerations

Effective comfort measures tend to vary from person to person; what helps one person may be irritating to another. Trial and error will help you find those comfort measures that are soothing to you. Always check with your healthcare provider before trying home remedies.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you:

  • Develop a fever
  • Notice increased redness and swelling, or streaks of red around the area of your skin rash
  • Notice your rash is producing pus
  • Notice any unpleasant odor associated with your skin rash
  • Notice the rash is on your face, which increases the risk of a serious eye infection
  • Experience severe, unrelenting pain that is not relieved by the measures recommended by your doctor


The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/default.htm . Accessed February 21, 2006.

Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, Packer D. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician . 2000;61(8). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000415/2437.html.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ . Accessed February 21, 2006.

Tyring SK. Management of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Dec;57(6 Suppl):S136-42. Review.

Last reviewed August 2008 by Ross Zeltser, MD, FAAD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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