Home remedies may help manage symptoms of shingles, alongside medical treatments. These can include essential oils, cold compresses, and cool baths.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, refers to the reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus after childhood. This is the same virus that causes varicella, or chickenpox. Aging, trauma, stress, or another illness can all reactivate the virus.

People who develop shingles should contact a healthcare professional for treatment and management advice.

A vaccine called Shingrix (zoster vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted) helps protect against the condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults over age 50 years receive the vaccine to reduce their risk of shingles.

Seeking medical treatment for shingles is important. Yet natural home remedies can also help reduce and manage some of the symptoms.

This article lists and explains some of these home remedies for shingles.

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Some essential oils contain properties that may help with skin irritation and healing. These oils include:

  • Chamomile oil: This has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • Eucalyptus oil: This has anti-inflammatory properties and can speed up the healing of sores (for example, in people with cancer). Learn more about eucalyptus.
  • Tea tree oil: This has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing. Learn more about tea tree oil.

In some cases, pure essential oils can cause allergic reactions. People should always do a patch test before trying them.

It is best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba, or visit a pharmacy to purchase them pre-mixed as a safe topical ointment.

Learn more about essential oils.


Although research suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and research the quality of a brand’s products. It is also important for people to always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

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Holding a cool cloth or compress against the rash site may assist in relieving itchiness and reducing inflammation.

People can lightly soak a natural cotton cloth or towel with cool water and wring it out before placing it on sore, itchy areas. They can then repeat this as necessary.

It is also best not to expose the skin to extreme temperatures, so people should avoid taking ice baths or using very hot water. Hot water will increase blood flow and potentially slow down the healing of sores, whereas ice will increase skin sensitivity.

Learn how to make and use a cold compress.

Research from 2022 indicates that witch hazel may be able to manage symptoms related to atopic dermatitis, including itchiness and skin barrier damage, both of which can also occur with shingles.

It is possible to purchase witch hazel in various forms. The most common are creams or witch hazel water. People can apply witch hazel topically to areas of irritation and inflammation to achieve relief.

Learn more about witch hazel.

Taking cool baths or showers every day, with minimal scrubbing, can help keep sores and blisters clean and reduce the risk of infection.

Cool water may also relieve sore and itchy spots. This may help prevent scratching, which could cause scarring.

In a 2018 review that looked at the effects of oat baths on atopic dermatitis, an emollient that contained Rhealba oat plantlet showed “anti-inflammatory and barrier repairing properties.” More research is needed to determine whether oat baths can specifically treat shingles.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the use of colloidal oatmeal as a safe skin protectant. Colloidal oat products usually leave out oat protein to prevent allergic reactions. Colloidal oatmeal is not specifically approved to treat shingles.

According to the CDC, an oatmeal bath may relieve itching from the shingles rash.

The active ingredients that help reduce inflammation include flavonoids and saponins. People can use oat products in a cool bath to help relieve pain and itchiness.

Read about the benefits of oatmeal for the skin.

Researchers have found that Gentiana scabra, a blue or purple flower occurring throughout North America, has a positive effect on pain relief in shingles and decreases the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia, a potential complication of shingles.

By reducing inflammation in the skin, Gentiana scabra minimizes pain and promotes healing. A reputable Chinese medicine practitioner can prepare the herbal formula by boiling the plant in water. People can then take the remedy orally.

A healthy, balanced diet is important for preventing and fighting illness.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend eating a varied diet, including:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • lean meats

People should aim to include orange, red, and green foods that contain the carotenoids lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and provitamin A in their diet. Carotenoids are very important for immune function, and occur in the following foods:

Type of foodExamples
orange foodscarrots
red foodswatermelon
red pepper
green foodskale

Limiting trans fats and saturated fats and avoiding added sugar and salt where possible can also reduce inflammation and improve immune function.

Learn more about eating a balanced diet.

There is a link between vitamin D and immune function. Many older people are at risk of low vitamin D levels, so it is important they get sufficient sun exposure or take supplements to protect their immunity.

Taking vitamin C, zinc, and selenium supplements can also improve immunity in older adults.

However, taking high doses of vitamins and minerals can have harmful effects. Multivitamins, which contain lower and safer levels of many vitamins and minerals, can be a suitable option. Individuals should discuss supplements with their healthcare professional before using them.

Learn more about vitamins.

Smoking lowers immunity against infection, especially in older adults. It can also delay recovery and healing. Plus, smoking causes various other negative effects on the body and can increase a person’s risk of harmful conditions and cancer.

If necessary, quitting or avoiding smoking can help a person manage shingles symptoms and recover more easily.

Learn tips to quit smoking.

Stress can lower a person’s immune system. This can make them more susceptible to conditions such as shingles.

Managing stress levels can help boost immunity and protect against various other negative effects that stress can have on the body. A few stress-reducing strategies include:

  • getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • getting regular exercise or physical activity
  • maintaining a good support network

Learn more about the link between stress and shingles.

It is not possible to cure shingles. However, as with other viruses, resting and eating a balanced diet can help with recovery.

Using treatments to help manage symptoms may increase comfort and mental well-being and can also reduce the risk of postherpetic neuralgia.

A vaccine is also available to help prevent shingles. Anyone who is over age 50 years or at risk of developing shingles should consider speaking with a healthcare professional about getting the vaccine or a booster dose.