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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest treatment for shingles in an elderly person

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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 2868 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 3 Mar 2017 in Skin Hair and Nails
Question: Thank you for giving me some advice. My husband is 74 years old and has come down with shingles on his face. His doctor gave him some green pills for 7 days and a cream. He took off from work for a week but had to return. He is in much pain and I want to help him but I don't know how I can. He takes other medications and I worry about some kind of reaction. Please doctor can you help us with a home remedy.
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 1 hour later
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Detailed Answer:
Hello Lolly,

I have had shingles too, and I know how painful and debilitating it can be. Shingles on the face can have serious complications if it involves the eye. If it does involve his eye, he should consult with an ophthalmologist (or his own primary doctor if he can't get in to see the eye doctor quickly).

The pills he was given were most likely an antiviral such as acyclovir. That can decrease the intensity of the eruptions and pain and may help prevent post-herpetic neuralgia, but it doesn't mean the shingles is over when the medication is finished.

The home remedy I am going to recommend is rest! He may not be ready to return to work.

Are the shingles blisters healed over already? I doubt it, and he needs to allow his body to heal.

For pain, he should have been given strong pain medications - Tylenol with codeine is often prescribed.

Once the rash is healed, if he is still having pain, it can be post herpetic neuralgia, and tricyclic antidepressant medications such as amitriptiline can help with post shingles pain.

But at the age of 74, shingles rash and pain can last much longer than a week.

My shingles was still erupting at 1 week. And it took about a month for me to heal and be out of pain.

So time, rest, and pain medications (prescription, from your doctor) are what I recommend.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 52 minutes later
Dear Doctor,
Thank you for your response. My husband mentioned to me that he has some numbness in the face. Is this a sign of the shingles. Would he have to go to a eye doctor or his own doctor. He works for many eye doctors. His family doctor did not think it was shingles until I told him he had fluid from his face. Then he made a decision it was shingles. Upon his return to work none of the doctors said anything that he should not be working. Could this hurt him more by working. He returned to work because of finance problems we have. I will show him your response and see his reaction. I appreciate you understanding our situation. Thank you once again Dr. XXXXXXX Berger-Durnbaugh.
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 11 hours later
Brief Answer:
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Detailed Answer:
Shingles can affect the regional nerves so that is likely why he has some numbness his face.

In terms of working hurting him - my experience is that over exertion makes the pain and fatigue worse.

If it doesn't involve his eye, he doesn't have to see an eye doctor, but he may need to go back in to his own doctor to get a prescription for pain medicine.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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