Shingles Home > Cure for Shingles

While there is no shingles cure, there are drugs available that can reduce the severity and duration of a shingles attack. These antiviral medications include acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. There is also a shingles vaccine. The vaccine, called Zostavax, is approved for the prevention of shingles in people 50 years of age and older who have had chickenpox but who have not had shingles.

Is There a Cure for Shingles?

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. As with chickenpox, there is no cure for shingles. There are, however, certain medicines (known as antivirals) that can shorten the length and severity of shingles. There is also a shingles vaccine that can prevent shingles in the future.

The Role of Antivirals

Antiviral medicines are used for the treatment of shingles. When given within 72 hours of the first symptoms of shingles, the severity and duration of a shingles attack can be reduced. Examples of antiviral medicines used for shingles treatment include:
These shingles medications have been shown to shorten the length of new lesion formation. They have also been shown to shorten the time it takes for full crusting, complete healing, and complete relief of pain. For example, in one study looking at valacyclovir, people who were treated with valacyclovir had their blisters stop forming one day sooner than those who did not take valacyclovir (two days versus three days). In a study with famciclovir, the average time to full crusting was five days compared to seven days in those people who did not take famciclovir.
Despite their effectiveness, these medicines are not a "shingles cure." This is because it is possible for a person who has had shingles to get shingles again, even if he or she was treated with antiviral drugs.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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