Shingles, an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, affects the nerve endings in your skin. Once you have contracted chickenpox, the virus can lie dormant in your system for years. If reactivated by a weakening of your immune system or bodily stress, the infection will reoccur as a painful and tender area affecting one side of your body. After a few days, a rash will appear and develop fluid-filled blisters. If you suspect you have shingles, see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Warm and Hot Water
Avoid warm or hot water while you have shingles. Warmth can cause further itching and skin irritation. Apply cool compresses to the lesions or take a cool bath twice a day to relieve the burning or tingling sensation. Wash the blisters gently, and avoid touching or scratching the infected area.
Do not wear tight clothing over the affected area. This could cause your skin to become more irritated and inflamed. Instead, wear loose-fitting clothing and cover the lesions with a clean cloth or loose-fitting gauze after cleansing your skin.
Because varicella zoster viruses are in your blisters' fluid, stay away from other people until the lesions have dried, usually after seven days. This virus is very contagious, and there is a chance that people who have not had chickenpox might contract the disease from you. Those who may be more susceptible include people on steroids or chemotherapy and anyone whose immune system is compromised.
Stress and Strenuous Activities
Avoid strenuous activities, stress and anxiety as you recover. Stress can weaken your immune system and can reduce its ability to fight infections. Pay attention to your body, and do not overexert yourself. Get plenty of rest through the recuperation process.
Avoid caffeine, tobacco, sugar, salt and refined white flour, which are thought to be harmful to the skin. Also avoid foods with high levels of saturated fats, which can promote inflammation and tenderness. Include in your diet flaxseed oil to promote healing of your skin and nerve tissue, brown rice, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
According to Science Daily, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advises getting a vaccination for shingles, particularly if you are over the age of 60. Used as a preventive measure for those who have already had chickenpox, the immunization does not guarantee you will not develop shingles, but it should reduce the course and severity of the disease if it does occur. Also, if you have never been diagnosed with chickenpox, avoid anyone who may have shingles to avoid becoming infected.