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What are the most effective over-the-counter medications for shingles?

The prescription meds are not giving any relief
I am very sorry to hear that you are having such trouble with shingles! As you know, shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus, and it causes burning and pain usually just in a single strip of skin on one side of the body. Sometimes there is a severe rash or blistering. Unfortunately, there is no cure for shingles. The prescription medications that are most commonly used for shingles are anti viral medications, which work by reducing the number of days of symptoms (but not actually helping with the pain while you do have it). If your doctor just prescribed anti viral medications, you may want to return to ask for something to help with the pain, which could include both topical creams for pain and burning as well as oral medications for pain. Sometimes, the pain from shingles can be chronic and, if this occurs, there are other classes of medicine that are used to treat this chronic nerve pain, and your primary care doctor will be able to discuss this with you. There are no good home remedies for shingles. Sometimes, cool compresses or baths can help alleviate the pain or itching. Please discuss this issue with your doctor for more advice.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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Answers are written by doctors from top institutions:
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Mass General Hospital
  • Beth Israel Medical Center
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