If you've reached this page chances are you are looking for a treatment for shingles. Before exploring ways to treat shingles, we will first discuss exactly what is shingles and its consequences on the health of an individual. As the saying goes, know your enemy.

What then exactly is shingles and how does it appear? The culprit is the zoster virus (herpes zoster/ varicella-zoster). You might have heard of it before and for good reason as it is the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. One characteristic of shingles is that it is only present in patients who have suffered from chickenpox. Shingles can be thus considered as a second attack of the varicella-zoster virus on the organism.

Shingle symptoms

In general, seniors are the ones most at risk, although shingles can also affect people with low or weakened immune systems, like people suffering from AIDS and other debilitating diseases. It can also be found in younger people albeit less commonly. People displaying the following symptoms may have to look for shingles treatment: at first there is no visual cue to shingles just an itchy or burning sensation on a localized patch of skin. After a few days a rash becomes visible on the spot where the itching sensation was (mainly on the face or trunk). Small blisters start to appear, filled with a transparent liquid which then dry out to form a layer of hard, crackely skin. This rash is often itchy and can be painful, depending on its location and the severity of the break-out.

Shingles: preying on the "weak"

Like mentioned earlier, the incidence of shingles is much higher in the elderly than in young people. Other victims of choice for the shingles virus are people with weakened immune systems like AIDS sufferers or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. But even amongst otherwise healthy individuals, a temporary slump in the immune system can be reason enough for the shingles virus to reactivate like during a cold or during stressful periods of your life.

One last thing before we touch on some of the best ways to treat shingles, people are often confused as to whether shingles is contagious or not. This is due to the fact that chickenpox and shingles are related but have each their own characteristics when it comes to transmission from one individual to the next. We won't go into too much details but in short somebody with shingles cannot give shingles to another person but he or she can give chickenpox if this other person never had chickenpox before.

Treatment for shingles

Ok, now that we have enough background on what is shingles and shingles symptoms, let's see what treatments for shingles are available. It is important to treat shingles as early as you can because it can potentially be serious and even life threatening in some cases. Depending on the location of the infection, shingles can lead to optical or auditory problems and even to face paralysis. This is because shingles can affect optical, auditory or facial nerves. While generally not a life threatening condition, shingles can be fatal in people with very weak immune systems who would be unable to prevent the virus from spreading to vital organs, causing all kinds of complications and infections. Three to five weeks are generally necessary for the rash and discomfort/pain to go away.

Antiviral drugs like valtrex, zovirax or famvir can greatly reduce the pain and length of the bout of shingles if administered early on. This is why it is vital to get treatment as soon as you see the first symptoms of shingles. Prompt treatment may also help reduce the after effects of shingles infection. Although research on new forms of treatment for shingles is under way as of today the most effective way to treat shingles are antiviral drugs.