Treatment

If diagnosed early anti-viral drugs can be prescribed. These are usually prescribed in very high doses over a short period of between 5 to 7 days and must be taken at the onset of the virus usually within 48 – 72 hours of the appearance of the rash.

The most common Anti-viral drugs prescribed for the Herpes Zoster Virus are:

  • Acyclovir,
  • Valcyclovir and
  • Famcyclovir.

Anti-viral drugs will help some people to heal, never to experience the Herpes Zoster Virus again. They are not used as a preventative treatment and may only help reduce the effects of the virus during the outbreak.

A vaccine (Zostavax) is available in some parts of the world but is usually only administered to those aged 60 and over who have had chickenpox so as to prevent an outbreak of Shingles in their later years.  Research has found that by giving the vaccine to older adults that it has substantially reduced the expected number of cases of Shingles.

There is an argument that the vaccine should be given to a much wider audience as Shingles and mores specifically Recurrent Shingles, seems to be occurring more and more in these modern times.

It is also thought that maybe children should be given the Chickenpox vaccine so as not to allow the Zoster virus to lie dormant in the first place only to manifest itself at a later date as Shingles. Most people in the UK have chickenpox as a child. However, although a vaccine against the Varicella-Zoster Virus has been used routinely in children in the USA since 1996 it is not given routinely in the UK.  This vaccine has substantially reduced the incidence of Chickenpox in the USA but only time will tell if this reduces the incidence of Shingles when these children are older.

At present the Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax) is only a preventative measure; it is not a cure and is not available for those who have already had Shingles although some who suffer recurrent outbreaks would argue that it does help to alleviate the painful PHN and lower the amount of outbreaks.

Diet can contribute greatly in lowering the number of outbreaks and possibly cease outbreaks altogether. There are specific Diets available to calm and re-build the immune system, which ultimately helps to create an environment in which the Zoster Virus cannot thrive.

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