Antivirals, Creams, and OTC Medications for Shingles Treatment and Pain Relief

The consensus from shingles victims from here till Sunday is that the rashes are enormously painful and achy. Thankfully, though, shingles nerve pain relief—from natural methods and home remedies to OTC and prescription antibiotics—is readily available and just a phone call, physician visitation, or kitchen cabinet away. Read on for a detailed description of the various approaches of herpes zoster pain management available.

Prescription Medication For Shingles Nerve Pain

Traditional, and arguably the most effective, medication for shingles nerve pain comes via a formally prescribed order from the dermatologist. Such medications have multiple purposes, like infection controlling, pain relieving, and inflammation reduction.

Beginning with oral meds, we’ll cover all the popularly prescribed routes.

Oral Antiviral Medication for Shingles

There are three oral antiviral medications for shingles that doctors rely on for their unwavering effectivity.


Acyclovir is sold most commonly by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pharmaceuticals under the brand name Zovirax but is also produced by Vectans Pharma as Sitavig.

Acyclovir, like the other antivirals in this list, treats outbreaks but cannot cure shingles—as yet, it’s an incurable condition. By lessening the severeness of the rash, acyclovir prevents new blisters from developing and aids the quick healing of existing sores. It decreases pain levels and isolated the virus, stopping the infection from popping up on other surfaces of the skin.


Generic famciclovir is manufactured by Novartis and branded as Famvir in the United States.

Painful burning sensations from shingles are most effectively relieved with famciclovir if the course begins within the first 48 hours of an outbreak. To maximize the benefits of famciclovir, ensure that drugs levels remain constant in the system by strategically ingesting the medication at strict intervals. Skipping doses diminishes the efficaciousness of famciclovir.


Valacyclovir is more well known as VALTREX, which, like acyclovir, is also brought to us by GlaxoSmithKline. This drug has gained international notoriety for treating genital herpes. However, it’s also useful for shingles.

This antiviral treatment also lessens both the lengthiness and acerbity of a shingles outbreak. The mechanism of action of DNA Polymerase Inhibitors, such as the trio in this index, is to thwart the replication of the viral pathogens that induce blisters and rashes on the epidermis and provide shingles nerve pain relief.

Are There Prescription Strength Topical Treatments for Shingles?

Some of the antiviral meds above also have topical administrations as well, such as acyclovir ointment for shingles, but they’re unpopular. The most relied on topical choice by physicians remains a capsaicin 8% patch called Qutenza.

Qutenza serves to relieve the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is the nerve pain that occurs after shingles.

Over the Counter Medication for Shingles

The easiest and most accessible alleviation of adult-onset VZV excruciating pain comes via over the counter medication for shingles.

There are several shingles treatment creams that can be purchased at the pharmacy around the corner from your house. Some reliable ointments from shingles include:

  • Calamine lotion: a bubblegum pink antipruritic astringent liquid that manages irritation and itchiness
  • Lidocaine: a mild anesthetic that numbs the area it’s applied to
  • Hydrocortisone cream: an antihistamine to stop the itching

The American Academy of Dermatology urges shingles sufferers to choose calamine lotion for topical application for its gentleness, but should only be used after the blisters have become scabs and not applied on open wounds.

Such OTC shingles treatment cream remedies should only serve as a backup supplement to an effective course of antiviral meds. Since shingles can be contagious to some, stifling the virus is the best plan.

OTC meds for general pain and inflammation can also be taken, such as Tylenol, Motrin, Aleve, and Advil.

Homemade and Natural Remedies for Shingles Pain

Some traditional, time-honored home remedies have proven to offer constructive pain relief for shingles patients.

A cold compress applied intermittently for five or 10 minutes at a time provides relief to the extreme skin sensitivity that often comes with a shingles rash. The compress shouldn’t be too freezing, the temperature of your refrigerator should fit the bill. Wrap the compress in cloth to make a shield between it and your delicate, fragile skin. Be gentle, overly extreme coldness can worsen the condition.

You can also draw a healing bath using different recipes. Keeping the afflicted skin clean is a good measure toward healing. First, there’s the conventional oatmeal bath of ground up or colloidal oatmeal added to lukewarm bathwater.

Second, you can try baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. This natural compound yields thousands of uses and is an effective cleanser. Third, cornstarch, as strange and unconventional as it may seem, can also be added to the bathtub for itching relief. Whichever ingredient you choose, be sure to avoid hot water at all costs, which can stimulate blood flow and aggravate your blisters.

Find shingles pain relief with the apple cider vinegar that’s found in your cupboard. Like baking soda, ACV, or apple cider vinegar, also have many health benefits, so it’s not surprising that it helps with shingles pain relief. Apple cider vinegar mixed with warmed honey creates a paste that can be directly spread on the sores. The healing properties of honey and apple cider vinegar work wonders on skin wounds.

Until the outbreak clears, only wear loose clothing made of linen or light cotton and always resist the compulsion to scratch at your rashes.



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