How Are Shingles on Legs Treated?


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Doctors can treat shingles on legs and other areas of the body with antiviral medications to reduce the pain and duration of the affliction or with topical creams to relieve long-term pain, explains WebMD. Although there is no cure for shingles, if a regimen of antiviral medications begins within the first three days of noticing the shingles rash, patients are at a lower risk for developing further complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia.

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Some common antiviral medications that doctors prescribe to treat shingles include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, notes WebMD. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, are often helpful to reduce pain during an attack of shingles.

The most common complication associated with shingles is postherpetic neuralgia. PHN affects 10 to 15 percent of shingles patients and causes ongoing pain for months or even years once the shingles rash has disappeared, according to WebMD. Standard treatments for PHN include over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen; antidepressant medicines, such as amitriptyline; and opioids, such as codeine. Anesthetics that can apply directly to the skin include benzocaine and lidoderm, which is a lidocaine patch that is available only by prescription. Other topical applications that contain capsaicin can provide temporary relief from pain, although patients should use capsaicin with caution as it is irritates or burns the skin of some users.

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