No single treatment relieves postherpetic neuralgia in all people. In many cases, it takes a combination of treatments to reduce the pain.
Here are some of the treatment options for postherpetic neuralgia:
Lidocaine skin patches. These lidocaine-infused patches are small and can easily be cut to fit the affected area. These prescription patches contain lidocaine, a known pain-reliever, which when applied directly to the affected area, delivers relief.
Capsaicin skin patch. Capsaicin, or chili pepper extract, is applied in bandages, which you can use to alleviate the pain. Capsaicin patches are only available in the doctor’s office and can only be applied by a trained person. The process of application can take two or more hours, but the effect could last up to three months or so.
Anticonvulsants. To reduce the pain, the doctor may also prescribe anticonvulsants, or anti-seizure drugs, such as gabapentin and pregabalin. These drugs help regulate the nervous system’s electrical activity, which is caused by nerve injury.
Antidepressants. While they are mainly used to treat depression, antidepressants can also reverse pain by affecting vital brain chemicals. Small doses of antidepressants are usually given to patients with postherpetic neuralgia. These may include nortriptyline, duloxetine, and venlafaxine.
Opioid painkillers. For some people, pain can be so excruciating that they’ll need prescription strength painkillers. These include tramadol, oxycodone, and morphine.
Steroid injections. A less effective medication for postherpetic neuralgia is steroid, which, in this case, is injected into the spine.
Discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of each available medication. Ask about the possible side effects and complications and their interaction with the drugs you are currently taking, if there’s any.
One way to prevent postherpetic neuralgia is by getting the herpes zoster vaccine.
This is FDA-approved and doctors usually prescribe it to the elderly.
7 Lifestyle and Coping
Taking the necessary medications can help you cope with the symptoms of Postherpetic neuralgia.
OTC creams that may help alleviate the pain are generally available.
Also, capsaicin cream is highly effective in relieving the pain. Available capsaicin creams are Capzasin-P and Zostrix.
Apart from these, you may also have nonprescription strength lidocaine topical solution to help reduce inflammation of the skin.
8 Risks and Complications
There are several risks and complications associated with postherpetic neuralgia.
You have a higher risk of having postherpetic neuralgia if:
You are 50 and older.
You had severe rash, combined with severe pain.
Experiencing other illness that can compromise your immune system.
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