life self-care Wellness

How to Get Rid of Shingles FAST!

March 5, 2022

Remember that time I got shingles on the face? 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 chickenpox, but I can assure you it’s far worse than chickenpox ever was.

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 shingles I.e. herpes zoster and how to recover from shingles quickly.

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 shingles 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

SHINGLES DIAGNOSIS

A couple days before the infamous shingles rash appeared, my lymph nodes on the left side of my neck and ear were super inflamed and I felt like I had a fever. I then developed a lot of pain in my ear with a monstrous headache, so the next day 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” also known as “shingles blisters” 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 the shingles on my face 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 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

SHINGLES RECOVERY

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 diagnose it within 72 hours of the blisters appearing, the antiviral medications 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 (ibuprofen) and tylenol (acetaminophen) to help manage the pain.

Eventually the pain dissipated and was followed by itching as the scabs dried and healed over. This is the typical course of shingles in which it starts with pain + tingling and then the rash appears. Once the rash scabs over you are no longer contagious.

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 RECOVER FROM SHINGLES QUICKLY

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.

CBD/THC

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.

BONE BROTH

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.

KOMBUCHA/PROBIOTICS

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. 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”.

SUPPLEMENTS

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

LEMON BALM

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 cream 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.

DIET

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.

ESSENTIAL OILS

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.

I personally didn’t do this because I had shingles on my face but if you have shingles on the side of the body (the most common) or somewhere you can soak in a bath, people swear by oatmeal baths to help relieve pain and improve symptoms.

*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

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP FOR SHINGLES

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.

Acknowledging those stressors and putting in plans of action to eliminate or diffuse them is the key to getting over shingles.

* * * * *

Also if you’re over 60 there is a shingles vaccination (called shingrix) which you can ask your doctor about.

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

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  • Reply
    Jenifer
    January 23, 2019 at 8:55 am

    What a beautifully written, thoughtful and supportive piece you’ve given us. Thank you for this post!

  • Reply
    Karina
    December 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I have been dealing with shingles chronically for the last 2 years. My first out break was when I was a kid.
    I can recall getting chicken pox or should I say pock.. literally one when I was about 6 or so. I wonder if my lack of an out beak cause what I consider an in break or the virus complied in my nerves that rears it s ugly head often now. My outbreaks are in for of blisters ranging in my nose, mouth, neck and inside my ear. I can tell now when my system is “on the fritz” and I get this nervous like shake inside my body. My wyes get goopy, and sensitive to light , I’m tired and body aches. It pretty debilitating but the show must always go on.
    A heatpad helps the jabbing neuralgia pain I get in my head and ibuprofen is a must.
    Lots of water and rest along with multi vitamin and of course taking the antiviral meds all help. I just received a prescription for the shingles vaccine Shingrix so hoping this will end my battle with this horrible condition. I am defeated and finally found. Doctor that understands how horrible having chronic shingles is.
    Did any other of your sufferers have a light case of chicken pox ?

  • Reply
    Alice
    December 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Hi–I have shingles now, also in same area of my face. Can you tell me what kind of TLC cream you use? I am in Texas and don’t know if I can get it, but the pain, esp at night–is bad.

  • Reply
    Christena Mejia
    December 12, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I stumbled upon your site looking for answers and trying to figure out what on earth is wrong with me being 33 and getting shingles. My mom and dad both have had it and I remember them describing it as being awful, and now I definitely get it. Mine is right behind my right ear, which started yesterday and I have had nothing but sharp, searing pain 24/7. I caved and have been taking my pain medicine and it does not stop the pain at all. Been drinking kava tea to help me relax and hopefully get some much needed sleep, but it’s so hard when it feels like someone is holding a torch to your head. I think the most difficult thing amidst having a very demanding job, two kids in elementary school with extracurricular activities 3-4 nights a week, squeezing in gym time and “me time” as well as keeping up with laundry and bills and all the other fun stuff, is that I’m terrified to hug or kiss my babies right now. They’re 5 and 8 and they’re still my babies. I’ve Lysol’d everything and literally praying they don’t get CP. Anyway, your tips and tricks are amazing. I will be going to the store tomorrow to stock up on your recommendations. Hardest thing is finding cbd oil in Alabama 🙁

  • Reply
    Amy White
    December 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I’m on week 6. Day 40. I started 3x/day anti-virals within the 72 hours but it didn’t seem to do anything. I was 60-70% a week after it started, covered from spine to sternum. Shingles rash took a full 2 weeks to peak and dry up. I had the basic flu symptoms for that…loss of energy, low grade fever, loss of appetite, sore. When they dried up and started fading, I realized I was numb everywhere the rash had been. About a week ago (4-5 weeks in), a 2nd small rash began on my sternum (same side). It’s the lingering effects that I’m still miserable over and looking for relief from. Ibuprofen and Benadryl can only go so far. Phantom pains, the creepy-crawlies, itches, and searing heat in spots. Make it stop! I’ll be trying some of these things.

    • Reply
      Kristin
      June 11, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      Hi there. My shingles rash first emerged on May 1 and I am still struggling a lot. I noticed you saying you were 6-weeks into the struggle. Do you have any update? I’m losing hope that I’ll ever feel normal again.

  • Reply
    Bb
    December 9, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Ride it out means to endure something and wait until its over and its usually in reference to something you have no control over. With a viral infection many times you can manage the symptoms but ultimately you have to wait for your body to fight it off.

  • Reply
    Madhu
    December 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I think I’m the youngest to get shingles that I know of, cuz I’m suffering from it now and I’m only 18. I think the stress of completing my A levels was the cause of the shingles. I have a line of blisters and rashes from the middle of my back on my left side all the way around to the front across my rib cage. And I have to say it hasn’t been fun. I can never get comfortable whether I’m sitting or lying down. So safe to say I haven’t been sleeping much. My doctor is making me take 10 antiviral tabs a day, 2 every 4 hours roughly. I recently got off my pain meds since after 3 days the pain seemed to subside. Glad I got meds early, but even then I think I’m gonna go insane from the lack of sleep before it clears up entirely. Thanks for all the helpful tips they really help me find some relief at least

  • Reply
    Madhu
    December 6, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    I think I’m the youngest to get shingles that I know of, cuz I’m suffering from it now and I’m only 18. I think the stress of completing my A levels was the cause of the shingles. I have a line of blisters and rashes from the middle of my back on my left side all the way around to the front across my rib cage. And I have today it hasn’t been fun. I can never get comfortable whether I’m sitting or lying down. So safe to say I haven’t been sleeping much. My doctor is making me take 10 antiviral tabs a day, 2 every 4 hours roughly. I recently got off my pain meds since after 3 days the pain seemed to subside. Glad I got meds early, but even then I think I’m gonna go insane before it clears up entirely. Thanks for all the helpful tips they really help me find some relief.

  • Reply
    Justine
    December 6, 2018 at 7:26 am

    I started to have pulsations in my right ear so loud I could hear my heart beat in my ear. This was nothing new it started over the last year or so until it became so loud and disturbing I went to my doctor who said I had pulsative tinitus. a few days later a rash appeard on my upper back, felt like it was a raised rash, then sharp pain shooting up my left ear. rash spread to upper chest, shoulder and left arm. the pain was unbearable. I took the antiviral for seven days, no relief of pain. I am now on the 21st day of this, my left side feels weak and heavy, fatigue can’t do much without getting tired. I am trying to ride this out. There are no shingles vaccines and one has to put themselves on a waiting list, they might have them in a month or two. Not sure if I should get one now.

    • Reply
      Beckie
      February 1, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      Going through a bout of shingles now. Approaching the end of week 2. Wondering if there can be a connection to ear ringing/tinnitus. I’ve had the same thing for about the last year. The ringing has come and gone, sometimes it isn’t so bad, and sometimes it’s super annoying. Dr seemed to have no idea why. Felt sick as a dog the night before I woke up with the side of my face n eye swollen. I did have a red mark on my forehead for a couple days that I thought was a pimple. If only. Got on antivirals immediately which helped tremendously, and the rash isn’t that horrid. What sucks is the nerve pain from the top of my head down to my ear. Hope that goes once the rash does. Fatigue is no joke either. Thought about the vaccine myself after this, but understand it’s a bit pricey, and has a 51% effective rate. I figure I have similar odds getting this again on my own.

  • Reply
    Karen
    December 3, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Great Ayurvedic tip: apply turmeric topically to the lesions and they dry up within a couple of days.

    • Reply
      Lisa Smith
      January 26, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      I’m going to try this. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Berkey
    December 1, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I feel so great that I was able to read this post. It’s so comprehensive and I gain a lot of things especially about taking care of one’s health.

  • Reply
    Kim Burr
    November 24, 2018 at 5:56 am

    I was just diagnoised with shingles today. And honestly I didnt have much pain just flu like symptoms in the begining. But Ive been on the pills for 5 days now and my skin is itchy af and burns. I havent wanted to do to much for awhile now. Im only 32 going to be 33 on Sunday. I really dont know what to expect. Im just starting to feel the headaches body aches bone aches and random as out of controll burning and itching. Ive had intense stomache issues Ive been trying to explain to doctors for years now. So I guess this is what it was all along. I need to sleep but I cant its frusturating. Im still just trying to adjust to having shingles now and it really scares me cause you can die from it. So I need to start taking better care of myself. And find a way to cope when I seen that your a younger adult with shingles I didnt feel so alone. So thank you for that support today I needed it.

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