Shingles pain management is no easy feat. What worked to relieve the pain a night ago, may not be effective at all the next night. Having several strategies at the ready may be your best defense.
Heat and cold packs
Try alternating between a heating pad and an ice pack on the effected area. The heat will help relax tension in the muscles resulting from the nerve spasms. The cold pack will help numb the nerve and thus reduce the spasms. Make your own pliable ice pack by mixing 1 part vodka to 2 parts water in a ziplog bag, sealing and placing into a second ziploc bag prior to freezing and use.
Depending on where the shingles outbreak is on your body, you can use a long scarf to hold an ice or warm pack in place. This allows you to move about more freely. Many shingles sufferers find it difficult to remain still; the pain leads them to pace the floor. Having a mobile solution for holding the ice/warm pack will make this need to move about possible.
Soaking in sea salt or baking soda
A soak in a warm tub with either sea salts or baking soda added can help temporarily relieve pain from shingles. Sea salts may help relax tension induced by the pain, whereas baking soda may help dry and heal the shingles rash more quickly.
Apple cider vinegar
Several times throughout the day, dab apple cider vinegar on the rash and surrounding area.
Up your intake of lysine
L-lysine is an essential amino acid that has demonstrated some ability to suppress the shingles virus. Many folks have reported successfully managing a shingles outbreak by taking 800-1000mg of L-lysine every couple of hours. If you would prefer not to take a supplement, all dairy products, particularly swiss cheese, also contain high amounts of l-lysine.
Reduce your intake of arginine
Arginine is an amino acid that has demonstrated some ability to propel the shingles virus. Foods that have a high rate of arginine include all nuts and seeds, shellfish and other crustaceans, and whole grains. To shorten the duration of shingles, it may help to keep your arginine intake low during a bout of shingles (or in general, if susceptible to shingles).
A type of medicinal marijuana, cannabis indica is reportedly helpful both at relieving the nerve pain caused by shingles and helping relax the bladder / stimulate the bowel in the event of shingles-induced neurogenic bowel/bladder.
2 cups milk
1/2 t turmeric
pinch of ground pepper
cinnamon stick (or 1/4 t ground cinnamon)
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat immediately. The milk will have turned yellow and thickened slightly. Pour into a mug and sip while warm.
Turmeric is the spice that gives yellow curry its distinctive color and taste. Turmeric is also believed to help relieve nerve pain (among a host of other health benefits). Note the circumin is the active ingredient in turmeric but is not the same thing as turmeric. For the greatest benefit, use the tumeric spice rather than circumin or circumin supplements. (It will be cheaper to use turmeric spice, anyway).
Lidocaine 5% is delivered via adhesive Lidoderm patches that you place over the site of the pain. Note that Lidoderm patches can NOT be used over the rash itself. You can cut Lidoderm patches into various sizes to fit around a rash as needed. You may use of to 3 Lidoderm patches at a time, 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
Sleep when you can
Shingles pain strikes hardest at night, usually between midnight and 2 a.m. Once it strikes, it generally persists until daylight. Opposite of vampires, shingles pain sufferers quickly begin to dread the night and rejoice at the sight of sunrise. This sleep killing tendency of the shingles virus seems deliberate - as if the virus intends to weaken its victim by preventing the sleep that might otherwise help them recover.
Dump the guilt and ship your kids off. This is when loving family, friends, or even exes can come in really handy. Your nights may be spent in agony and daytime may be your only chance to grab some sleep. If you have children, keeping such a schedule might be impossible. If it's feasible, do yourself a huge favor and find someone to take care of your children so you can get the necessary sleep you need.
Boost your immune system
Reduce stress and up your intake of nutritional foods and supplements that help bolster the immune system. Supplements to consider include cod liver oil, vitamin C, a B vitamin mix, as well as the aforementioned lysine dose. Also consider adding garlic, manuka honey, and bee pollen to your diet to assist recovery. Note that anyone allergic to bees should not take pee pollen.