Can You Leave Shingles Untreated?

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus that is also responsible for chickenpox. Although the virus has been around since ancient civilization, the symptoms are often uncomfortable. Depending on the type of infection and potential complications, treating the varicella-zoster virus can be done multiple ways.

A List of Common Symptoms

Certain symptoms are prevalent in both men and women. These symptoms can range from minor irritation to extreme pain. The severity of the condition may coincide with age, compromised immune systems, and medical history.

The varicella-zoster virus can last several days. During the initial few days, the infection has just started to impact the individual. These symptoms are reported in people of all ages.


A general lack of energy is felt during the beginning stages of shingles. This can include sleeping more often or feeling sluggish during the day. Difficulty concentrating can stem from a lack of energy, and it may take longer to finish work tasks or routine walks.


Not everybody experiences vomiting, but nausea is a common symptom. This can be worse during the mornings or after eating. Nausea should not last more than a few days. If this symptom persists, a physician may be able to prescribe certain medications. It’s essential to stay hydrated during this time.

Strange Sensations

Many people report feeling a tingling or numbness in their arms. This can cause pain, or it may just feel tender. This symptom usually takes longer to dissipate and may feel like a concentrated muscle ache from too much exercise. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with cramps and minor pain associated with the varicella-zoster virus.


After the first few days of infection, a rash will develop. The varicella-zoster virus often creates a painful skin condition on one side of the torso. This rash usually presents itself as one single stripe of fluid-filled blisters. Rashes from this particular infection can last multiple days and frequently require topical ointment for shingles. Shingles ointment can be purchased without a prescription at various grocery stores and drug stores.

Rashes from the varicella-zoster virus are rarely dangerous unless they form on the face. Even rashes that form along the torso, however, can cause an intense burning sensation. There is potential for the rash to spread, but it will usually heal after two to four weeks. Certain treatment options can decrease the time it takes to heal and smoothing the texture of the skin.

Severe Symptoms

Some symptoms may require immediate medical treatment. In the case of internal infections, the virus can cause complications with a variety of organ systems. The varicella virus has the potential to impact the lungs, thyroid, and liver.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a potential complication from the virus that causes nerve damage. This typically happens in the face and can affect hearing. Signs of this syndrome can be recognized by ear pain and facial weakness, or even paralysis. Less severe symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome include neck pain, trouble blinking, decreased sense of taste, vertigo, and persistent ringing noise.

A physician should be contacted if the individual has a rash that spans one or both eyes. Medical treatment may also be necessary if new symptoms appear or if rashes turn to lesions or wounds.

The Difference Between Blisters and Pimples

Both pimples and blisters often form as red bumps on the surface of the skin. While pimples can occur anywhere on the body, they are most often found on the face.

Pimples are not a sign of infection. They can be caused by hormonal fluctuations as well as oily skin. A greasy diet can also play a role in pimples and age and specific periods during the month. Pimples are generally harmless and will usually form individually as opposed to clusters.

Blisters appear when there is excess friction between skin or from an infection. They can also be caused by contact dermatitis, burns, frostbite, and allergic eczema. In the case of the varicella-zoster virus, these blisters are usually excruciating. Blisters are filled with fluid and can break easily. Depending on the type of blister, fluid can cause certain viruses to spread. Covering a rash with a cloth is advised in the case of this infection.

Can You Leave The Infection Untreated?

Although the varicella-zoster virus is not usually a life-threatening infection, complications can occur. If left untreated, older adults risk facing additional conditions such as pneumonia, hearing loss, brain inflammation, and damage to the nervous system.

For infections that are considered mild to moderate, the symptoms may still be perceived as painful. For fevers, aches, and chills, over-the-counter pain relievers can ease discomfort. Shingles ointment is another solution for varying degrees of pain.

Topical ointment for shingles is frequently used to reduce pain in a short period of time. By rubbing ointment on the rash, blisters and inflammation can be significantly reduced. This can also keep the skin fresh and hydrated.

Other ways to manage the virus include temperature treatments. Holding a cold washcloth over the infected skin can ease any potential burning sensations. This can also work with non-stick, sterilized bandages. Ice packs, frozen vegetables, and cool baths are recommended.

Loose clothing is another common way to manage the infection. Rashes that appear on the torso can become inflamed from certain clothing and fibers. Tight shirts should be avoided until blisters have healed, and cotton will keep the area cool.

Itchiness left untreated may be fine during the daytime but can present problems while asleep. Many individuals with itchy rashes are prone to picking or scratching during sleeping hours. If anti-itch cream is not necessary during the daytime, individuals with healing rashes are advised to cover the area before bedtime.

How To Prevent The Varicella Zoster Virus Infection

To reduce the risk of developing infection, there are vaccines available. For those who are over sixty and have not been vaccinated, the varicella-zoster virus can be dangerous. Depending on the vaccine, this can be done in a one or two-shot process but does not take long to complete.

While treatment options can work for many, prevention is often the best cure. Unfortunately, even with the vaccine, some individuals may contract the virus. Natural remedies and over-the-counter medication help most individuals with the infection and can significantly reduce pain.

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