11 Easy Home Remedies for Shingles

Shingles is a particularly nasty skin disease, which some liken to essentially a grown-up adult version of the chickenpox people often develop as children. Of course, this analogy isn’t too far off the mark.

What is shingles, exactly?

You see, the same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. Specifically, only those who were exposed to chickenpox and developed it at some point can develop shingles later in life. Why? Because this virus stays in the body for life, even after a bout of the chickenpox clears up.

Shingles occurs when the virus reactivates, which almost always occurs in adulthood, particularly over the age of 50. However, it is possible to develop shingles at any age in life.

What does this condition feel like?

Shingles attacks nerve cells. The result is that the condition can cause:

  • Extreme pain
  • Severe itching
  • A nasty red or even bumpy rash

Unfortunately, these symptoms can last for quite a while, from around a few weeks to a few months. The discomfort is oftentimes so severe, though, that it can feel like a lifetime.

What are the risk factors for shingles?

There are several factors that may increase the risk of someone developing shingles. These factors include:

  • Stress
  • Old age
  • Weakened immune system
  • Having chickenpox

While there is a vaccine available to help prevent shingles, there is unfortunately no real cure. The best method of managing shingles is to get vaccinated for it—or the chickenpox, if you’ve never had it—and doing your best to alleviate discomfort that shingles causes.

What are some ways to manage shingles at home?

If you develop shingles, there are a handful of home remedies that may help you effectively deal with unpleasant symptoms. The first home remedy requires you to grab the Quaker Oats…

11. Bathe in Oatmeal

An oatmeal bath? Really?

Yes, really. This remedy might seem a little “out there,” but plain oatmeal really can help alleviate painful and itchy skin symptoms.

So, why specifically oatmeal?

Why not just a bath? After all, a bath in and of itself can be incredibly relaxing and soothe shingles-related discomfort. However, an oatmeal bath can be even more effective at alleviating discomfort, since oatmeal can alleviate itchiness and pain while also reducing swelling.

How do you implement this trick?

There are a few easy ways of going about this treatment.

  1. The most simple method involves grinding up some plain oats; you can turn them into a super-fine powder in your blender or food processor. Then, add it to your bathwater.
  2. Alternatively, oatmeal creams and soaps are readily available to purchase that require no extra preparation effort on your part.
  3. Can’t make it to the store? Not a problem. Create your own paste from ground oats and water. Apply it to any affected areas. Then, leave it on as long as you like before washing it away in the shower or soaking in a cool bath.

Not a fan of the oatmeal method? You might be more likely to appreciate the following tried-and-true remedy…

10. Use Calamine Lotion

Why can calamine lotion help?

Calamine lotion is often something of a magical go-to ointment for many an ailment. This long-trusted pink lotion has been a staple for decades when it comes to treating itchiness and other painful skin conditions, including shingles rashes.

Where can you find this lotion?

Fortunately, it’s not at all expensive and can be found readily available at most pharmacies.

How do you use calamine lotion?

When using calamine lotion to treat shingles:

  1. Give the bottle a good shake
  2. Pour it onto a cotton ball
  3. Apply it to the affected area
  4. Allow it to dry completely
  5. Leave it there until the next time you have a cool shower or a bath

Is calamine right for you?

Calamine lotion can be an incredibly effective solution for shingles-related itching. The lotion can provide a cooling effect as well, which can be especially beneficial when it comes to dealing with later stages of shingles.

This next trick may also work well in combination with calamine lotion…

9. Avoid Tight Clothing

How can this technique help?

Though it may often go overlooked, something as relatively simple as changing clothes can go a long way in relieving shingles discomfort. After all, if the skin is agitated, do you really want to wear tight clothing that can easily aggravate the area?

What types of clothing will work?

Some great options to consider include:

  • Large t-shirts
  • Baggy sweatpants
  • Loose, flowing dresses and skirts
  • Loose-fitting tank tops or other sleeveless shirts
  • Athletic shorts

What sort of clothing is ideal for colder weather?

Obviously wearing loose clothing can be somewhat more challenging in the winter months. However, there are still plenty of ways to minimize clothing-related irritation in colder weather, such as:

  • Avoiding harsh fabrics like denim
  • Opting for soft fabrics like flannel
  • Wearing natural fibers, which are gentler than synthetic materials

Don’t forget about any bandages.

Want to apply some bandages to the area, too? Make sure that you’re applying them loosely. That means don’t use sticky bandages that can stick to the rashes.

Fortunately, wearing loose clothes is an easy enough trick to try. It also works well with many other remedies, including the following…

8. Make Your Own Healing Paste from Baking Soda and Cornstarch

An easy remedy that likely doesn’t involve an additional trip to the store.

Most people have baking soda and cornstarch lying around the house somewhere. Fortunately, that means most people can easily try a new shingles remedy without an additional trip to the store. Why? Because mixing these two ingredients together results in an effective paste for tackling shingles symptoms.

In fact, there are many different healing pastes you could make at home from all sorts of ingredients to treat all sorts of conditions. Many find that the pastes they make at home can be just as effective as creams from the pharmacy.

Why baking soda and cornstarch?

When it comes to homemade healing pastes for treating shingles, baking soda and cornstarch are the gold standard.

Why is that, though?

Well, baking soda is great for disinfecting wounds and purifying the surrounding area. Cornstarch is particularly great for alleviating itchiness. Mix the two together, and you get a great solution for shingles discomfort.

How do you make and use this paste?

If you want to make your own healing paste from baking soda and cornstarch, first grab these two ingredients. Then:

  1. Mix two parts baking soda with two parts cornstarch
  2. Add an additional one part water
  3. Stir into a creamy-looking paste
  4. Apply the paste
  5. Leave it on the affected area to dry (about 15 minutes)
  6. Rinse it off

While baking soda and cornstarch seem harmless enough, the following recipe may have some people initially balk (even though it can help)…

7. Try Capsaicin Creams

Remember: Creams can only treat, not cure, this condition.

You won’t be able to find a cream that will make your shingles rash go away. You will be able to find something that can significantly relieve the discomfort you’re feeling, though. After all, dryness and itchiness are common with shingles rashes, and there is no shortage of remedies to manage these sensations.

How can this technique help?

If dry skin is bothering you, apply creams that will keep it moist. You’ll want to apply the cream a few times throughout the day, as instructed. If necessary, cover with loose bandages.

How can you find the right cream?

You’ll want to find creams featuring capsaicin, which may come as some surprise to some as it is the main ingredient in hot peppers. How in the world can this ingredient help shingles?

It’s all thanks to its anti-inflammatory features. In fact, capsaicin is particularly great for nerve-related pain, which shingles creates. Therefore, this ingredient may help you alleviate shingles symptoms quite effectively.

Of course, running to the kitchen can be effective for managing shingles in other ways as well…

6. Change Your Diet

How can this technique help?

Fixing your diet can help you to deal with the symptoms of shingles. How? By eating nutrient-dense foods, you can feel much better as you give your immune system a boost. This boost can even lead to fewer future outbreaks of shingles.

What nutrients should you introduce to your diet?

There are certain nutrients that will boost the immune system and therefore hopefully help prevent the further spread of shingles, thus minimizing its damage to your body.

Specifically, you’ll want to focus on having a diet rich in:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Lysine

These vitamins can be readily found in foods such as:

  • Green, red, and yellow vegetables
  • Lean proteins like fish
  • Whole grains

This technique can give your overall health a boost, too.

A healthy diet rich in these nutrients can help you with more than shingles discomfort (if that weren’t already great enough). This diet can also boost your immune system long term, meaning your overall health can improve. In turn, that means you feel better overall.

In the meantime though, chilling out—literally—can be another easy home remedy for this condition…

5. Apply Cold Compresses or Take a Cold Bath

How can this technique help?

Shingles rashes tend to be hot, dry, and itchy. So, one great way of subduing the pain to cool the area off—literally. You can achieve this goal throughout the day with some cool compresses.

When should you apply compresses?

Several times a day. Take a clean cloth, soak it in some cold water, and simply apply it. When you feel that the cloth has warmed up, simply replace it with a fresh one. You can repeat the process throughout the day.

How many wash clothes should you use?

Use a new cloth every time. After removing a cloth, make sure to gently pat dry the area.

Not a fan of compresses? Try this.

If pain is too intense to apply a compress, don’t worry. You can still use cool methods to help.

One further option in the vein of a cold compress is to take a cold bath. Then, apply some lotion or ointment to the afflicted area. This strategy will help in two ways. Firstly, the cold bath will cool down the skin. Then, the lotion will help to keep the skin nice and moist, helping to prevent irritation.

Don’t like cold baths or compresses? Keep reading. The next home remedy is a tasty solution to shingles discomfort…

4. Soak the Rash in Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is increasingly popular as a home remedy for a wide variety of issues. As far as we’re concerned today, though, apple cider vinegar can be a great way to relieve some itchiness and pain caused by shingles.

How can this technique help?

Note that this technique will only be good if your rashes aren’t open/oozing.

How exactly can apple cider vinegar help? It’s all thanks to fermented apples. Specifically, it’s thanks to the fact that these apples contain pectin, which is essential for proper digestion. While most know that pectin can help boost the immune system when ingested, many don’t know that it can also help some conditions when applied topically (on the skin).

What kind of vinegar should you get?

You want unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar. Why? If you were to look at a bottle of unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar, you’d see that within the liquid is a brown suspension. That is where the pectin is concentrated. When apple cider vinegar is filtered, this removes most of the suspension, hence reducing its efficacy.

How do you apply the vinegar?

Some of the best apple cider vinegar remedies for shingles include:

  • Soaking a hand towel in the liquid. Then, place it over the shingles rash. Allow the skin to absorb the apple cider vinegar.
  • Mixing apple cider vinegar to your bath. Add four tablespoons of the liquid to your bathwater. Soak yourself in it for 20 to 30 minutes.

Not a fan of trendy remedies like apple cider vinegar?

If this technique seems a little too “out there” for you, perhaps the following traditional remedy would be better…

3. Moisturize with Aloe Vera

How can this technique help?

If you want a good moisturizing cream for your shingles rash, find yourself one that’s fortified with aloe vera. Aloe vera is oftentimes known as something of a miracle cure, being able to help many kinds of skin irritation.

With an adequate amount of aloe vera gel applied to your affected skin, you should immediately begin to notice its cooling, soothing effect. That makes this remedy an especially great choice if your rash is particularly painful or hot to the touch.

How should you apply the gel?

To relieve pain and itchiness from a shingles rash as quickly and effectively as possible, repeat the treatment at least two or three times a day.

No aloe? No problem.

The next topical treatment may also help, and is as simple as reaching for a tea bag…

2. Grab Some Chamomile

How can this technique help?

Thanks to the polyphenols and antioxidants found in chamomile, it can easily provide your nervous system with relief from the symptoms of shingles. In other words, chamomile can alleviate your discomfort thanks to its role as a nervine agent, or something used to calm nerves.

What are some ways to use chamomile for shingles?

You should have no issues finding use in either the tea bag or oil treatment methods.

  1. Brew some chamomile tea and drink it. Once cooled, use the tea bag on the rash like a cold compress. Leave it on around 20-30 minutes so the tea can soak into the skin. (Important: Pregnant individuals should not ingest chamomile.)
  2. Chamomile oil is likewise great for finding shingles relief. Mix some chamomile essential oil with some extra virgin coconut oil. Then, apply it to the affected area. For best results, repeat 2-3 times a day.

The best remedy of all?

Of course, perhaps the single best way to manage shingles is…

1. Cut Back on Stress

How can this technique help?

“Cutting back on stress” might sound like overly simplistic and unhelpful advice. However, finding ways that help you reduce stress is key to managing shingles.

After all, stress enables the virus to much more easily spread throughout the body, causing greater damage. So, by reducing stress, you can more effectively recover from this condition. Or, at the very least, you can reduce the chances of shingles worsening.

What stress-reduction techniques actually work?

Everyone finds different activities and environments calming. In other words, what one person finds relaxing can be extremely stressful for another. So, the key to managing stress is to be self-aware.

Some great questions to ask yourself include: What causes you stress? Can you eliminate or reduce the impact of that stress source? Are there any activities that help you calm down?

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. Some great ideas for relaxing include:

  • Reducing the impact of stress sources
  • Taking time off work
  • Walking
  • Bird watching
  • Coloring or drawing
  • Talking to a friend or loved one
  • Playing a game
  • Meditating
  • Reading a good book
  • Watching TV or a movie
  • Listening to music
  • Avoiding self-destructive habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Napping/Getting enough rest

What’s next?…

What’s most important to remember about managing shingles?…

Managing Shingles is Possible

The unpleasant symptoms of shingles can be extremely difficult to deal with. What’s most important to remember, though, is that a shingles outbreak will not last forever.

Even better, in the meantime there are plenty of at-home remedies that may help you manage the uncomfortable sensations this conditions brings. From the “out there” methods like the oatmeal bath to the more tried-and-true remedies like calamine lotion, most people can find an at-home remedy that works best for them.

What’s the key to management?

The number one thing to remember throughout this time? Get as much rest and relaxation as you possibly can. After all, by taking it easy, your body will better be able to speed up the recovery process.

Be patient.

When it comes to trying out remedies, remember to be patient with yourself. After all, some treatments don’t work for everyone. So, if one treatment doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean no remedy will work for you. Relief is possible!


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