Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Shingles treatments

There is no cure for shingles but the condition can be treated with antiviral medication that may lessen its severity and help prevent complications. Antiviral medication is most effective if you start it within three days of the rash appearing. If you are pregnant talk to your doctor about whether antivirals are right for you.

Over-the counter medications such as paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, can be used for pain relief. If over-the-counter medicines aren’t controlling your pain, your doctor may prescribe other medicines such as opioids, anti-depressants and anticonvulsants .

To help relieve itch from the rash, try using cold wet compresses. You can also try products such as calamine lotion, antihistamines, or aluminium acetate lotions which are available from your local pharmacy.

What other things can I do if I have shingles?

If you have shingles there are a number of things you can do to help manage the condition. Here is some self-help information:

  • Try and keep the rash as dry and as clean as possible.
  • Try not to scratch the rash. Scratching may cause scarring and infection of the blisters.
  • After a bath or shower, gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel. Do not rub or use the towel to scratch yourself and do not share towels.
  • Wear loose cotton clothes around the body parts that are affected.
  • If you do need to cover the blisters to prevent contamination then use a non-stick dressing. Do not use antibiotic creams or Band-Aids on the blisters as they may slow down the healing process.
  • Cool compresses, baths or ice packs may help with the discomfort. Do not apply ice packs directly to the skin. Wrap the ice pack in a light towel and place gently over the dressing. Wash the towel in hot water after use.
  • If the blisters are open, applying creams or gels is not recommended as they might increase the risk of a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Avoid contact with people who may be more at risk such as pregnant women who are not immune to chickenpox, people who have a weak immune system and babies less than one month old.
  • Do not share towels, play contact sports, or go swimming.

Prevention

For adults who are older than 50, a vaccination called Zostavax is available. Being vaccinated won’t guarantee that you won’t get shingles, but it will reduce your chance of developing the condition. This is not the same as the vaccine used to protect against chickenpox. Read more about chickenpox vaccine at Immunise Australia.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your shingles, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 149 results

Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection characterised by a painful rash on the skin. The infection is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Read more on WA Health website

Chickenpox and Shingles

Chickenpox is a common viral infection that can reappear later in life as shingles. Vaccination is recommended for all infants and non immune adults.

Read more on NSW Health website

Shingles - myDr.com.au

Shingles is a painful rash caused by the chickenpox virus. Initial symptoms can be intense pain, burning or tingling on an area of skin on the face or body.

Read more on myDr website

Valaciclovir AN Tablets - myDr.com.au

Valaciclovir AN Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Valaciclovir Pfizer Tablets - myDr.com.au

Valaciclovir Pfizer Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Lovir Tablets - myDr.com.au

Lovir Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Valaciclovir Sandoz Tablets - myDr.com.au

Valaciclovir Sandoz Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Aciclovir GH Tablets - myDr.com.au

Aciclovir GH Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Ozvir Tablets - myDr.com.au

Ozvir Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.

Read more on WA Health website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback