Antivirals and Other Medications

Treatment with an antiviral can reduce the severity of the nerve damage and speed healing. If you suspect you have shingles, see your healthcare provider within 72 hours of the first sign of the rash.

A healthcare provider can confirm the diagnosis, prescribe the antiviral pills, and may also prescribe other drugs such as pain relievers. Patients with long-term pain may also be treated with numbing patches, tricyclic antidepressants, and gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication.

While these treatments can reduce the symptoms of shingles, they are not a cure. The antivirals do weaken the virus and its effects, but the outbreak still tends to run its course.

Good hygiene, including daily bathing, can help prevent bacterial infections. It is a good idea to keep fingernails clean and well-trimmed to reduce scratching.