life self-care Wellness

How To Survive Shingles (And Not Go Totally Crazy!)

March 5, 2018

Remember that time I got the shingles? I know I won’t be forgetting that experience anytime soon…For anyone who has had or currently has shingles, you know this is a pain you won’t soon forget. They call it adult chicken pox, but I can assure you it’s far worse than chicken pox ever was. That or my memory is playing tricks on me!

But it’s not all bad around here. My Dad always jokes that whenever shit hits the fan around here, it makes for a great blog post and well, he’s definitely right about that. THM is my personal version of making lemonade! Or in this case, make shingles recovery out of shingles!

I’m going to skip over the whole medical diagnosis part since your doctor should probably be the one doing that but instead describe my personal experience with the shingles and what I did to nip it in the bud. The first thing I did when I got diagnosed, was immediately take to the internet to see if anyone had helpful tips for healing shingles. I read a lot of horror stories, some not-so-horror stories but also some really productive tips. I’m hoping this post can be that for some of you. Or if you have a friend or family member suffering, feel free to pass onto them. We got this!

So, first things first…

Trigeminal Nerve Shingles and healing shingles naturally


I actually told the full story in this Instagram post so I won’t go into too much detail. Basically, a couple days before the infamous shingles rash appeared, my lymph nodes on the left side of my neck and ear blew up. I then developed a lot of pain in my ear the next day so I went to the doctor to see if I had an ear infection. That morning I noticed two huge zits on my forehead which I thought was strange (because I never breakout on my forehead) but they didn’t occur to me as anything but zits. You know those huge underground zits you get? They looked and felt like those.

My doctor looked in my ear, felt my lymph nodes and informed me I did not have an ear infection but likely some kind of virus that my body was trying to fight. Neither of us thought anything of the zits and I went home feeling pretty crappy but relieved it wasn’t an ear infection.

Over the next few hours is when the rash really started to develop. A few more bumps on my forehead, one on my eyebrow and those big “zits” started to become really painful. The pain I felt in my ear started moving into my head and my swollen lymph nodes made it difficult to turn my neck. I later found out that the pain in my ear was likely caused by the fact that my shingles developed in my trigeminal nerve which is right next to your middle ear.

I knew pretty much as soon as the pain migrated to my forehead that I had the shingles. People have been shocked to discover that you can a) get shingles under the age of 60 and b) get shingles on your face. I knew both were possible because my Mom had them on her face when I was really young. Thankfully that situation clued me into what was happening with my own body but for any of you out there who don’t know this, you can get shingles at any age and they can happen at any nerve root in your body, including your face!

Shingles recovery and tips and tricks for how to heal your body when diagnosed with shingles


Because I pretty quickly tuned into what was happening, I was able to get started with my shingles recovery fairly quickly. If you manage to catch it within 72 hours of the rash appearing, the antivirals are most effective. I’m lucky I caught it within that window and am certain the quick duration of my symptoms was because of this. Of course, not everyone will know right away, but if you have a gut feeling or any of the symptoms I described above, go to your doctor!

Besides my antiviral 3x a day I was also prescribed pain meds, which I honestly didn’t end up taking. Heavy pain meds make me feel sick and groggy so except for the first two days when the pain was pretty excruciating, I used advil and tylenol to help manage the pain. For as hippie dippie as I may be, when stuff like this happens I think the path of least resistance is often the best. I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to overcomplicate.

Of course, I also turned to diet and lifestyle choices to also help manage the symptoms. I’m fairly confident that in addition to the antivirals, these choices helped to decrease the span of my shingles experience. So let’s get into that…

Healing shingles through supplements, diet and lifestyle changes - these are the best tips for healing your shingles and aiding in shingles recovery

HOW TO SURVIVE SHINGLES (and not go totally crazy!)

I think the most important piece of this post is this section. Of course, catching it early and taking the antivirals help a ton but shingles is so much more than just popping some pills and hoping for the best. I’m not here to throw conventional medicine under the rug. I don’t think I’d have had such a quick turnaround if it hadn’t been for the full course of antivirals I took, but there are a lot of natural treatments you can incorporate to also help speed up the process and the pain and itchiness that typically ensues.


In addition to OTC pain meds, I used CBD and THC to help manage the pain. I’ve been playing around with different types of CBD and found the Calm pen from Dosist to be most effective. For THC I used topical salve on the rash itself and it was literally a godsend to help manage the pain.


There’s a reason your body craves broth when you’re sick. Bone broth is super anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting. It contains vitamins and minerals that help support gut health and reduce pain and inflammation.

I’ve had two cups of bone broth every single day for the last two weeks. Currently obsessed with Kettle and Fire and especially their mushroom and chicken broth! Use code THEHEALTHYMAVEN to save 20% off your first order.


When they say “it all starts in your gut”, they’re not kidding! After my bout with SIBO I had to eliminate and then slowly add in fermented foods and probiotics. I can’t even tell you how much I missed kombucha…It’s been almost 6 months since then and I am now happily back to taking my daily probiotic and guzzling my Healthade kombucha. 5:00 PM became my “kombucha happy hour” and I think that’s going to stick around for a while!


Pretty much everyone under the sun will recommend a different supplement to you when they hear you have shingles. Truthfully, there are many MANY out there that could benefit you, shingles or not. I decided to stick with what I had from my Care/of packs and add in one that was consensus amongst everyone, L-Lysine.

Zinc – supports immune function and has an antiviral effect

L-lysine – an amino acid that helps reduce the spread of the shingles virus

Rhodiola – an adaptogenic herb that’s shown stress relieving properties

Astragalus – another herb that helps support immune function and has an antiviral effect


I wasn’t sure which category to put this under, so instead it gets a category of it’s own. Lemon Balm is an herb that is known to help reduce pain from shingles, both internally and topically. I pretty much got all my hydration from drinking 6-8 cups of Lemon Balm Tea a day and once the initial couple of days of pain went down, I used a topical lemon balm to help reduce inflammation, reduce pain and help promote healing. Someone on Instagram told me to order this Lemon Balm Salve from Amazon and it was literally the best advice I got from everyone. Within a week the rash had gone done and had begun healing.


I am a true believer in the healing power of food. Now I don’t think eating perfectly “clean” replaces other lifestyle habits or conventional medicine, but it is a great tertiary care to support your body. And truthfully, when you’re sick (at least when I’m sick), I’m not craving the same foods I normally do. I think when you really tap in and listen you’ll realize that the foods you crave like bone broth and vegetables are actually your body’s way of supporting you.

In my case I literally wanted all the warm, green veggies in broth. Particularly kale and bok choy. Interestingly my acupuncturist told me that bok choy is a common healing and cooling food in Traditional Chinese Medicine and that because shingles is excessive heat in your body, bok choy was a great cooling choice. Our bodies are crazy!

In addition to plenty of veggies, I also found myself gravitating towards antioxidant fruits like berries and lots of bananas. I didn’t intentionally do it, but I pretty much ate zero refined sugar for a week. As I started to feel better I was like “give me the brownies!!!” but while I was still heavy in the pain-zone I didn’t want any of it.

I also consumed more turmeric that I ever thought I could and especially loved it in my morning Matcha and Turmeric Latte. My body was NOT craving coffee so my morning matcha really did the trick.


I’ll be honest, when I’m sick I often turn to essential oils for primary support, but for shingles they definitely played second fiddle. I rubbed fortify on my chest and neck lymph nodes to support my immune system and diffused grounding and soothing blends like unwind, spa spirit and tranquility to help stay calm and promote self-care and relaxation.

*Note: After about two weeks I began seeing an acupuncturist to help with some peripheral nerve pain that remained even after the rash had healed. I highly recommend if you’re still dealing with pain but are out of the itchiness and scabbing phase.

Kombucha and how probiotics help in shingles recovery


I know that this is a lot of information so give yourself time to take it all in. Perhaps, more importantly take this one piece of advice: RELAX. Shingles is usually brought on by stress in your life. While I didn’t think I had a lot of stress (I’ve become a lot better at managing it!), when I listed everything on my plate it’s easy to see how my body was overburdened.

The biggest lesson learned through this process is how important it is to really, truly support your body. People often mentioned how lucky I was to be able to have a job that works from home, but when you’re sick it’s easy to just reach for your phone in bed or work on a project while recovering on the couch. The boundaries are less clear. Though I did the bare minimum I needed to do, I mostly took a lot of time to rest, nap, journal, watch TV and essentially do nothing.

I would have loved to have gone on walks or been outside but the pain of the wind on my face made it impossible. I was upset over this but C reminded me that compassion is a big part of the recovery process. So even though I felt stir crazy, I also knew that going outside actually created more stress in my life. Acknowledging those stressors and putting in plans of action to eliminate or diffuse them is the key to getting over shingles.

* * * * *

I’m still not 100% pain-free but that’s to be expected after 2.5 weeks out. I’m continuing most of what I listed above and easing myself back into work. I’m also doing acupuncture to help manage the pain and have also found it super helpful in reducing my stress levels.

Overall I can tell I’m drastically improved from where I was and also have learned one of life’s most important lessons: STRESS IS REAL and it can manifest physically, so don’t ignore it!

Have you ever had or currently have shingles? Any tips to add? Drop them below!


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  • Reply
    July 13, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Got my covid vaccine in mid April (Pfizer) and now have shingles. Reading through this thread, there has to be a connection. I’m 31, otherwise healthy, not overly stressed beyond what’s normal these days.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you so much for posting your experience! I went to urgent care thinking I had an ear/sinus infection, but thought it was strange the pain was only on one side of my face, and that nothing helped the headache. The day after, i noticed a light tingly rash on my forehead. After reading your blog, i made an appointment with my PCP and was diagnosed with shingles.
    I am a 34yo healthy woman. I also am just over 2 weeks out from my second Pfizer vaccine. I was wondering if there was a connection, but didn’t believe that was even plausible until I read all of the recent comments on here!

    • Reply
      July 12, 2021 at 3:51 pm

      I am the same. 3 weeks after my 2nd AZ vaccine, i now have shingles on my scalp forehead and eye. I’m worried for my vision.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Just came across this page after what seems like a similar experience to many on here – had my second Astra Zeneca covid jab on Friday, then by Monday had bumps starting to come up on my neck and my shoulder was feeling numb. Thought I was having an allergic reaction at first and was taking antihistamines like an idiot. When they got worse I finally went to my GP today and was told I had shingles by her. On anti-virals now and hoping they help me shake this off quickly. I wasn’t even told shingles were a possible side-effect when I got the vaccine. I have been stressed and short-staffed at work lately too, but it seems like the vaccine definitely is a big part of why I’ve come down with this. Going to try to use some of the tips above for sure.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    This was so helpful and I know I’m not alone! Just received second COVID Pfizer vax and within two weeks have shingles. Your list of care really helped a worried lady! I’m 31, fit female with no outstanding health issues. My symptoms have appeared similarly to yours, focused on the left side of my face and very irritable on my left ear. Thank you for bringing awareness.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    It’s nice to see I’m not alone! I’m 26 and got my AstraZeneca three weeks ago. Anddd here we are. Diagnosed with shingles today. There is definitely a link but I read that this can happen with any vaccine even a flu shot. Here’s hoping we get through this ♥️

  • Reply
    June 23, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    I got shingles about a month after getting the first corona vaccine. I very much remember how my uncle suffered with shingles a number of years ago, and got the shingles vaccine the second I was eligible. Unfortunately, this first one was apparently NOT all that effective! I had (have) it on my neck, face, and ear. I had some pretty bad eye pain, but fortunately no blisters near my eye! I managed to get to my doctor despite all the restrictions here in NYS, and took the antivirals. After six weeks, I still have an itchy burning scalp, but much less pain. Currently I am on gabapentin. Nothing much helped for the pain. Lidocaine has lessened the itching, but cooling baths and relaxation techniques have given me the most relief. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had to quit a job two weeks before the pain appeared, and I certainly would not have been able to work at any job for the two worst weeks! The media should make people a lot more aware of shingles! I know more people who have, had shingles, than corona!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    I had the Astra Zeneca jab in Feb and within 1 month developed a very serious case of Shingles. I am convinced there is a a connection and the officials are ignoring the evidence. It is now mid June and after being in hospital for over a week I am still in pain and totally drained of energy, needless to say I have not had the 2 nd jab

  • Reply
    June 13, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I received my 2nd Pfizer vaccine on 04/27/21, and got shingles on the face starting 05/04. It was a severe form of the shingles and the pain has been a torture. I’m a very healthy and fit female. Never thought about the possible link between COVID vaccine and shingles until I read the posts here yesterday. Submitted a report to VAERS yesterday. Hope those who has similar experience will do the same

    • Reply
      June 13, 2021 at 10:25 pm

      I’ve also been vaccinated. I found this video very enlightening. I may be having buyer’s remorse with the covid vaccine after watching it. 3 very smart doctors discussing all things covid and vaccines. I would not be surprised at all if someone finds years down the road that these vaccines reactivate dormant viruses in the body, including Herpes Zoster (shingles virus). Of course it could a coincidence, who knows, though I think we should discover the truth whatever that happens to be.

    • Reply
      June 18, 2021 at 9:59 pm

      I also have shingles right at this moment. It’s been the worst experience, in tears everyday from the nerve pain. I’m a very healthy female, always take care of my health and stress. I’ve probably only had one rash in my whole adult life. And now I have the mother of all rashes?!! Coincidently I was also received the Johnson vaccine 2 months ago. I feeling this is not a coincidence at all.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Maggie, I got my last Pfizer shot March 15th. I have a horrible case of Shingles currently. I have a breakout all along my jaw, outside my ear, several spots on my scalp and forehead. I have an awful earache and a swollen gland. My neck is also very sore. I am on an antiviral but truly wiped out. I’m curious if there is a link to the vaccine or if I’m just extra run down. Has anyone heard anything linking shingles to the vaccine??

    • Reply
      June 13, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      I recently watched this video with a couple of doctors about Covid, the vaccines, and potential safety issues (particularly for young people) that seem to be getting ignored. I believe they briefly mentioned shingles when they discussed how these new vaccines appear to reactivate dormant viruses in the body (which is how shingles works).

    • Reply
      June 22, 2021 at 11:36 am

      I got the Pfizer vaccine April 7 I’ve had fevers ever since . I now have shingles . I am 54 I had chicken pox at age 26 . I’m on antivirals but I feel awful .

      • Reply
        July 3, 2021 at 4:11 pm

        me too. got my pfizer shot 10 days got shingles, wonder is there is any relation

  • Reply
    June 4, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Oooh good gracious!! I just left my dr office crying bc I’m 37 and have shingles!!
    Thank you so much for this post!!
    Also can we please be friends?! Lol

  • Reply
    June 2, 2021 at 1:18 am

    I got the J&J on Apr 10, and got shingles on May 17. 37yo healthy male. Thanks for the tips. The nerve pain has been very excruciating, far more than the rash itself.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2021 at 1:05 am

    Thank you so much for posting your story. I had almost exactly the same symptoms you did. I felt like my ear was in a vice. First, my doctor prescribed antibiotics for what they thought was an inner ear infection. Later that day, I had a vertical line of zit-looking bumps on my forehead running to my eyebrow that got painful. I woke up the next morning in so much pain I knew it wasn’t an ear infection. ER doctor prescribed antivirals.

    Did you get a rash in your ear? I’m hoping my rash won’t expand too much from where it was when I started the antivirals.

    Reposted submission to add: I’m 39, had second Pfizer shot March 30. I’m pretty sure a severely stressful event related to school caused the virus to reactivate in my body.

    I just ordered the lemon salve you recommend. Did you use it while the rash was active or wait until after it scabbed over?

    • Reply
      June 2, 2021 at 10:28 pm

      Hello Maggie, this is Lauren crazy how I just got diagnosed with shingles at 38 ,but for me I didn’t get any Covid shot. What meds did your doctor prescribe you and how are you feeling? Didn’t think people so young can get this. Hope you’re doing well .

      • Reply
        June 5, 2021 at 1:45 am

        Hi Lauren
        My doctor prescribed Valtrex, which is an antiviral. It’s a commonly used medication for shingles. He also prescribed some norco, pain medication, which I took the first few nights, so I could get some sleep. I use lidocaine (topical nerve numbing) cream on my forehead rash so I don’t feel the pain/itching.

        I wish you a speedy recovery!

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