How can residual pain from shingles be mitigated?


Quick Answer

Although residual pain from shingles, or postherpetic neuralgia, can often be relieved with a topical anesthetic, some patients may need to take medication for the rest of their lives, as reported by WebMD. Finding the right medication can be a trial-and-error process, and some medications take weeks to become effective.

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Full Answer

The antiviral medication that patients take during the infection phase of the shingles is not prescribed for the residual pain of the disease because the infection is no longer present, according to WebMD. The first line of treatment to mitigate the pain at this level involves topical creams and gels that can be bought over the counter for less intense pain or prescribed for more serious or chronic pain. Many of these topical creams and gels use low concentrations of anesthetics such as lidocaine, which is absorbed by the skin and numbs the nerve endings.

If these treatments are ineffective, patients often turn to stronger medications, including opioids and some anti-depressants, which have proven effective at soothing the pain from postherpetic neuralgia. However, the onset of shingles or some residual pain does not necessarily mean that patients necessarily develop postherpetic neuralgia, and it is not necessarily a chronic condition. Age has been shown to be a risk factor in the development of residual pain from shingles, with older patients more likely to develop the condition, according to WebMD.

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