Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles is a disease caused by an acute viral infection of the central nervous system. It affects areas of the skin.

Typically, three to four days before skin outbreaks occur, symptoms of fatigue, fever, chills, and, sometimes, gastrointestinal upset, start to manifest, followed by the affected area of the skin becoming sensitive to touch. Then small, crusty, painful blisters erupt along a nerve path so that the reddened outbreak affects a strip of skin, forming a line. This most commonly occurs over the ribs in the thoracic area and is usually limited to one side of the body. In rare cases, shingles can also affect the lower part of the body or the face. During shingles outbreaks the pain can be severe, but the eruptions usually heal within five days without further complications. In some people, however, especially the elderly, pain can last for months and even years, and be recurring.

What To Consider

Shingles can be due to chicken pox (in children), pleurisy, Bell's palsy, herpes simplex, appendicitis, colic, gallstones, colitis, trigeminal neuralgia, or contact dermatitis. All of these conditions must be screened for and, if present, properly treated to provide lasting relief from shingles.

Caution
Shingles eruptions that last longer than two weeks can be a sign of underlying immune problems or cancer (particularly Hodgkin's disease), and therefore require immediate medical attention. In addition, see an ophthalmologist immediately if herpes zoster occurs near the eyes or on the forehead, as it can cause blindness.

Self-Care Tips

Diet
Eat an organic, whole foods diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and minimizes carbohydrates (avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugars altogether).

Nutritional Supplementation
At the first sign of outbreak, apply zinc oxide along the path of the affected nerve area two to three times daily. Other helpful nutrients include L-lysine, vitamin B complex, vitamin B12, calcium, and high doses of vitamin C plus bioflavonoids. Topical application of vitamin E can also be helpful.

Aromatherapy
Massage the essential oils of lemon, geranium, bergamot, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, or chamomile along the affected area.

Flower Essences
Crab Apple.

Herbs
Combine equal parts of oat straw, St. John's wort, and skullcap tinctures and take one teaspoon of this mixture four times a day. Peppermint oil applied topically can also help reduce pain, unless the skin is excessively dry, in which case it is contraindicated.

Homeopathy
Useful homeopathic remedies include Arsen alb., Rhus tox., Sepia, Natrum mur., Hepar sulph., Caladium,and Acidum nit.

Hydrotherapy
Soak in bath of water at body temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Juice Therapy
Drink carrot and celery juice with one tablespoon of parsley juice once or twice each day.

Topical Treatment
Apply apple cider vinegar to the affected area.

Caution

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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