Care of skin sores from shingles

Careful skin care can help control the itching and pain associated with shingles and can also help prevent skin infection.

  • Avoid picking at and scratching blisters. If left alone, blisters will crust over and fall off naturally.
  • Use cool, moist compresses if they help ease discomfort. Lotions, such as calamine, may be applied after wet compresses. Try not to apply so much lotion that it cakes and is hard to remove.
  • Apply cornstarch or baking soda to help dry the sores so that they heal more quickly.
  • Soak crusted sores with tap water or Burow's solution to help clean away crusts, decrease oozing, and dry and soothe the skin.
  • Ask your health professional about prescription antibiotic creams or ointments if your skin becomes infected.

Your health professional may prescribe topical creams to help relieve the inflammation caused by shingles. Be sure to apply creams as directed by your health professional and the medication's label.

Do not use thick ointment (such as petroleum jelly) that prevents the sores from drying and healing.

Last Updated: March 9, 2009

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