Is that rash shingles?

Photo: Thinkstock

Published: November, 2013

Cope with the blistering rash using antivirals and painkillers.

If your doctor diagnoses a painful rash as shingles, also known as herpes zoster, you're in for more pain. The virus inhabits nerves, and blisters arise near the affected nerves, making the skin especially sensitive. To combat pain, your doctor will prescribe a medicine to kill the virus—such as famciclovir (Famvir) or valacyclovir (Valtrex). That can help within three days of the start of the rash. Also helpful are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve); acetaminophen (Tylenol); or a stronger prescription pain medicine if necessary. The blisters will last for a few weeks, and the pain may last for months. In 10% of cases, pain may last even longer.

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