The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
There are no medications available to cure shingles. Medications can shorten the duration of the illness, reduce the risk of developing complications, and relieve discomforts.
If you develop postherpetic neuralgia with severe pain, your doctor may prescribe medications that are used for chronic pain conditions.
Common names include:
Antiviral medications will not cure shingles, but they can shorten the duration of the illness. They may also reduce pain and discomfort. While more evidence is needed, antiviral medications might help prevent complications of shingles, such as post-herpetic neuralgia.
Side effects may include:
Ibuprofen can also help relieve some of the aches and pains associated with shingles. To decrease your chance of having an upset stomach, take ibuprofen with food.
Common brand name: Benadryl
Diphenhydramine can help decrease the itching associated with the rash of shingles.
Side effects may include:
Common brand name: Caladryl
Caladryl lotion can help soothe the itching associated with the rash of shingles. Apply lotion to the rash several times each day.
Common brand names include:
Antibiotic ointments may be recommended if your rash has become infected. Talk to your doctor about whether it is necessary to apply antibiotic ointment to open areas of you rash. It is usually applied several times each day.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Contact your doctor if you:
Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 20, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html. Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2016 by James Cornell, MD
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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