Shingles is a viral infection that causes a person to develop a painful rash with blisters and scabs. A person can care for their shingles scabs by using a combination of home remedies and medical treatments.

Shingles results from the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Home remedies can help to soothe a painful, itchy rash. A doctor may also recommend antiviral medications.

Read on to learn more about how a person can treat their shingles scabs. This article also discusses how to prevent shingles and how long shingles scabs can last.

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Below are some of the home remedies that a person may wish to use to help treat their shingles scabs.

Colloidal oatmeal bath

Colloidal oat extracts can exhibit anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that they may be beneficial for helping manage shingles scabs.

A person can pour oatmeal into a bath of warm water and soak their scabs for a period of time to help relieve pain and itchiness.

Cold compress

If a person has shingles, they can apply a cool compress, such as a cool cloth or ice pack, to their scabs. This may help ease pain and dry the blisters.

Learn about how to make a cold compress.

Calamine lotion

Calamine lotion can be an effective treatment for skin rashes and itching. A person can help calm their itchy shingles scabs by applying calamine lotion.

Calamine lotion contains:

  • calamine
  • zinc oxide
  • glycerin

Calamine lotion has a number of properties, including being:

  • antiseptic
  • antibacterial
  • moisturizing

Learn more about calamine lotion.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is a plant that some people use to treat inflammatory skin conditions. This is because witch hazel has some anti-inflammatory properties.

This means that witch hazel may provide anti-inflammatory effects on shingles scabs and may reduce itchiness.

Learn more about witch hazel.

Certain antiviral therapies can help shingles scabs heal.

Common antiviral medications that medical professionals use to help treat shingles include:

  • acyclovir
  • valacyclovir
  • famciclovir

People take these medications orally. A person should take these medications within 72 hours of the shingles rash first appearing for best results.

These medications can also help reduce a person’s pain and prevent postherpetic neuralgia (PHP), which is a common complication of shingles that causes long-term nerve pain.

A person can also make use of lidocaine plasters to help reduce shingles scab pain. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic.

The person places a lidocaine plaster once a day on their shingles scab and it slowly releases the anesthetic, helping reduce shingles scab pain.

Learn more about shingles treatments.

Shingles scabs typically take 2–4 weeks to heal. However, this time will vary from person to person.

Different factors can impact how long it takes for a person’s shingles scabs to heal. These factors include the severity of the rash and how soon a person received treatment.

People may continue to experience nerve pain in the form of PHP after their shingles scabs have healed.

Learn more about what to expect with shingles.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), if a person takes the correct care of their shingles scabs, they can ease their discomfort and prevent another outbreak later.

The AAD suggests that a person avoids touching and scratching their shingles scabs.

Other things it is best for a person to avoid to help their single scabs heal include:

  • washing with fragranced products, choosing a fragrance-free cleanser instead
  • using sticky bandages, instead using a sterile nonstick bandage to cover the scabs
  • wearing tight-fitting clothing, as wearing loose-fitting clothing may irritate the skin less

A person’s doctor can provide them with more advice on steps they can take and things they should avoid to help their shingles scabs heal.

A person should see a doctor within 2–3 days of developing a shingles rash. Ideally, a person would see a doctor within 72 hours of getting the rash so they can begin early treatment.

By starting treatment within 72 hours of developing a shingles rash, a person can:

  • reduce symptoms of shingles
  • shorten the duration of their shingles infection
  • reduce their risk of developing complications of shingles, including PHP

A person can help prevent shingles by having the recombinant zoster vaccine. This is the vaccine to prevent shingles and other related complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults who are 50 years or older receive two doses of the shingles vaccine.

The CDC also recommend the shingles vaccine for adults who are 19 years old and over and have a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or therapy.

Prevent others from catching shingles

If a person already has shingles, the condition will be contagious. Any person who has not already had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine can catch the virus.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, it is best to cover the rash with a dressing and avoid touching or scratching the rash.

A person’s doctor can provide them with more ways to reduce the risk of shingles.

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a person to develop a painful rash with blisters and scabs.

A person may wish to pour oatmeal into a bath of warm water and soak their scabs. This can help relieve pain and itchiness. They may also wish to use a cold compress or calamine lotion.

Medical treatments for shingles can help the scabs heal. They include antivirals such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. It is best for a person to take these medications within 72 hours of the shingles rash appearing to achieve the best results.