What is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection characterized by a painful rash. While you may find a shingles flare up on any part of your body, it is most commonly found on the left or right side of your torso, forming a single stripe of blisters.
A virus called varicella-zoster, which lives dormant in your body after you’ve suffered from chicken pox, causes shingles.
Shingles is not considered a life-threatening condition, however, complications may arise. Diagnosing shingles early and seeking treatment is the best way to avoid these complications while also helping to shorted the duration of the painful rash.
Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles typically only affects a small portion or one side of your body. If you suspect you are suffering from shingles, you might be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Painful, fluid-filled blisters
- A red rash that appears a few days after experiencing pain
- Pain, burning, tingling, numbness
- Sensitivity to touch
- Sensitivity to light
What Causes Shingles
The same virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus, causes shingles. Anyone that has suffered through the itchy illness of chicken pox may develop shingles down the line. Once you endure chicken pox, its possible for the virus to enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years until its ready to emerge with a vengeance, leaving a trail of painful blisters on your skin.
Right now it is not quite understood why shingles affects some people and not others. One theory is that our immune systems grown weaker as we age, therefore making us more vulnerable to falling victim to the virus.
Can you Develop Shingles if you haven’t had Chicken Pox?
The short answer is no.
HOWEVER, if you come into direct contact with someone who is ill with shingles and has open sores, you can become infected with the varicella-zoster virus and come down with chicken pox if you are re not immune to chicken pox. While chicken pox may not seem like a big deal, it can be potentially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems or infants and women who are pregnant.
Who is Most at Risk for Shingles?
Simply put, if you have had chicken pox, there is a chance you might develop shingles. There are a couple of factors that put you in a high-risk category for developing shingles:
- Those older than the age of 50 have a higher chance of developing shingles. The older you get, the higher your chances become of developing the infection.
- Those that have an immune system weakened by illnesses such as cancer or HIV are at higher risk for developing shingles.
- Cancer treatments have a tendency to weaken the immune system and therefore increase one’s chances for coming down with shingles.
- Taking certain medications may trigger shingles. These medications include steroids or drugs meant to prevent your body from rejecting organs from a transplant.
Treatment for Shingles
If you suspect you are suffering from shingles, it is important to seek medical attention right away to prevent further complications. While there is currently no cure for shingles, your physician can prescribe you anti-viral medications to help get the virus at bay and help prevent potentially dangerous complications from arising. Your physician will also prescribe you medication to help control painful symptoms.
Essential Oils for Shingles
Once you’ve sought out medical treatment, there are some home remedies you can try at home to help supplement your medications and help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. Many people find relief with essential oils. Some essential oils have been found to help not only soothe painful rashes, but possibly help speed up the healing process as well.
1) Tea Tree Oil
This medicinal oil has been used to help treat many illnesses and skin conditions. Also called melaleuca oil, the antiviral agents of tea treat oil make it an excellent companion to prescribed shingles medication. Tea tree oil not only helps to kill the virus, but it has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties as well, helping to alleviate discomfort associated with shingles.
Regularly applying tea tree oil to your shingles rash may also help to prevent scarring while the antibacterial agents help to prevent further infection from occurring.
Lavender essential oil is considered a “cure-all,” helping to treat and alleviate pain associated with a variety of different illnesses. The analgesic properties of lavender essential oil are so effective, many compare this healing oil to powerful pain relieving drugs.
Chamomile is a great essential oil to have on hand when going through a shingles outbreak because it helps to alleviate stress while promoting healing. When you’re stressed, your immune system is compromised. It is important to relax and get proper rest while treating shingles.
Bergamot is a great essential oil for treating shingles for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is s an antiviral, which means it will help fight the virus and help prevent complications. Secondly, it promotes healing, helping to decrease the healing time of the shingles rash. Last but not least, bergamot is an analgesic, helping to decrease the discomfort and pain of a shingles rash.
Ravensara essential oil is great for treating skin inflammation and infections. This healing essential oil is an antiviral, so it’s great for helping to fight the virus. Meanwhile, the healing properties of the oil help to shorten the healing time by clearing up the rash on the skin.
If you’re experiencing pain and sensitivity, geranium essential oil is a great oil to consider in your treatment routine. Shingles causes extreme discomfort and pain, even after the rash has vanished. Applying geranium oil to your skin helps to treat this specific kind of pain.
Lemongrass oil, also known as Melissa oil, is a powerful antiviral that helps to fight the virus associated with shingles. Lemongrass oil is considered a “hot oil” and may burn your skin, so it may be better to add this essential oil to your bath water as opposed to putting it directly on your skin.
If you’re looking for an essential oil to apply directly to the skin and are interested in lemongrass oil, try purchasing oil labeled “Melissa oil,” which is much more gentle, although expensive.
8) Manuka Oil
Manuka oil contains powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents. Hailing from New Zealand, it is believed that this essential oil helps to prevent the spread of the herpes simplex virus, including shingles, which is a part of the herpes virus family.
9) Black Cumin Seed Oil
If you’re looking for pain relief, black cumin seed oil may be the essential oil you’re looking for. Black cumin seed oil also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe some discomfort.
How to Use Essential Oils for Shingles
There are several ways you can use essential oils to treat your shingles.
You can use it topically as a massage oil or put it in your bath water (don’t forget to dilute in your carrier oil!).
You can even diffuse or inhale essential oils that boost your viral defences. By inhaling anti-viral oils, you help boost your immune system and help fight the virus.
- Before using essential oils to help treat your shingles, consult your physician.
- Never apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting it first. Try using a carrier oil such a coconut oil or jojoba oil before application.