This poem by Marie Causey clearly sums up the plight of the person who has shingles or herpes zoster. And just like the advertisement that some of you might see before this poem, shingles is an annoying, frustrating and a very painful experience!
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox, this virus stays dormant in the body. Sometimes this virus can become active later in life, causing shingles. As you grow older the risk increases and about half the patients of shingles are 60 years or older. It is known to appear when your immunity has dipped due to any reason.
It causes a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days. It may take up to 2 to 4 weeks to clear up. The rash is due to the infection of the superficial nerve by the virus.
About 1 to 5 days before the rash appears, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. We have seen patients who went to the emergency room for severe pain in the chest region and they were thoroughly investigated for cardiac problems. It was only later that they realized their folly after we told the patient that she could be suffering from shingles.
A person with active shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. A person is not infectious before the blisters appear. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.
The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks or months in most patients. Some people can have pain from PHN for many years.
Shingles may lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death.
As usual, viral diseases do not have specific treatment in conventional medicine. Anti-viral therapy with its concomitant side-effects is usually given to the person who has shingles. Post-herpetic neuralgia does not usually respond well to the usual pain-killers. This is because of the damage cause to the nerves carrying the sensory impulses. This is where homeopathy steps in. We have been able to help people with the PHN with our safe and simple homeopathic remedies.
Though the treatment of every person is individualized in homeopathy, we list some of the remedies that we have found very useful in managing shingles.
Mezereum: There is great itching, which is worse when the patient is warm or wrapped up. At the same time there is chilliness and sensitiveness to cold air with the itching. There are small vesicles with terrible itching, and the great characteristic is that the secretion dries quickly, producing scabs from beneath which an acrid thick pus oozes. Herpes zoster, with neuralgic pains along the nerves.
Rhus toxicodendron: It is useful in left-sided zoster with extensive vesication and perhaps accompanied with rheumatic pains. The skin is covered with numerous vesicles, there is great itching and tingling, the skin is often swollen and oedematous and these vesicles have a red areola around them. The symptoms are all worse at night, in damp weather and in winter. Rapid vesication and angry- looking skin are characteristics. There is a lot of relief from warm applications.
Ars alb: The sensations are itching, burning and swelling. Burning sensitive eruptions with offensive discharges. The intense burning is relief by local warmth.
Ranunculus bulbosus: There are vesicular eruptions along the course of the nerve; vesicles filled with serum and burn greatly; large blisters form on a raw surface. These blisters have a bluish appearance. If the shingles affects the chest region, there is a sore bruised sensation and muscular pains along the lower margin of the shoulder blade.They may complain of stitching pains between the should blades when moving or breathing in.
Lachesis: is a remedy that we have found very useful when the shingles affects the left side and there is a hypersensitivity of the skin. They cannot bear even the touch of the clothes to the affected area. The local symptoms are made worse in a hot room and from warmth and are relieved by cold applications. the eruptions are dark and almost have a bluish or purplish appearance.
Apis: has more burning and stinging and more edema. The skin appears rosy red in color and can be blistered as if burnt. There is a lot of relief from local cold applications. Ice packs relieve the stinging pains.
Cantharis: Large blisters with smarting and burning. There are blebs on the skin that burn and are relieved by cold applications. These persons may also develop a concomitant urinary infection with a lot of burning and smarting and the urine is passed out drop by drop.
Anacardium: There are small blisters with an umbilicated center. The eruption itches excessively and burns and is worse when washed with warm water. A peculiar feature is that the itching is relieved by eating or rubbing the parts.
Note: A detailed history followed by constitutional treatment by a good and qualified and the best homeopathic doctor is necessary to treat the complaints that appear. It is not advisable to resort to self-medication for any disease. The above mentioned remedies are mentioned solely to create awareness homeopathic medicines in dealing with disease conditions.
For homeopathic consultation for your symptoms you may visit Homeopathic Healing or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to meet the Homeopathic Specialists.