Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: shingles | valtrex | varicella | zoster | pain

Mom Needs Help for Shingles

Friday, 30 Mar 2012 08:17 AM

Question: What is the best treatment for long-term shingles. My mother is 88 and has suffered with this condition for many years. She seems to do better and then it returns with a vengeance. She has taken Valtrex, but it doesn’t always work.

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of the torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. For years, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles. There's no cure for shingles, but prompt treatment with prescription antiviral drugs can speed healing and reduce risk of complications. Valtrex is one such drug. Sometimes, the pain can be very severe, so her doctor may prescribe anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, and numbing agents, such as lidocaine, delivered via a cream, gel, spray or skin patch, or even medications that contain narcotics, such as codeine. It’s best to take a cool bath or apply cold compress on blisters during an attack.
I also recommend a one-time shingles vaccination to all victims of shingles as well as for all adults over the age of 60 unless contraindications exist. The herpes zoster vaccination (Zostavax) will help prevent recurrent shingles episodes.

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Long-term treatment of shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, includes antiviral drugs such as Valtrex.
Friday, 30 Mar 2012 08:17 AM
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