One out of every three Americans develops shingles, leading to an estimated 1 million cases each year in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (7)

Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. When a person gets chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues even after the person has recovered.


In some people, the virus gets reactivated and causes itchy and painful rashes on the skin, called shingles. While the infection can appear anywhere on the body, it mostly occurs on the torso, face, and buttocks.

treat shingles

The condition is characterized by red, painful rashes with itchy and burning sensations. Other shingles symptoms include a headache, body pain, fatigue, fever and sensitivity to light. (1)

Although anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, the risk increases with age. Also, people with weak immunity and those suffering from conditions like lymphoma, cancer, leukemia and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are more prone to the trouble. (1)


While shingles usually clear up on its own within 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes the rashes become extremely painful and require medical care.

Treat Shingles the Natural Way

In mild to moderate cases, you can use natural home remedies to treat shingles (herpes zoster) and also to get rid of the pain and infection.

Method 1: Licorice Root Liquid

Licorice contains a component known as glycyrrhizin, which inhibits virus growth and may also have the ability to inactivate viral particles. When used topically over the rash, it has the potential to exercise these antiviral activities. (5)

licorice for shingles

  • Licorice root in liquid form may be purchased at your local health store.
  • Place 3-4 drops over rash. Do this twice daily.
Note: Taking licorice root orally can result in loss of its antiviral properties. Additionally, do not take if nursing or pregnant.

Method 2: Reishi Mushroom

Multiple small-scale studies have shown significant pain relief from patients who have taken Reishi Mushroom for herpes zoster. (6)

reishi mushroom for shingles

  • Reishi mushroom in liquid form may be purchased at your local health store.
  • Dose as directed. May be taken orally with tea or other liquids daily.

Method 3: Use Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an antiviral and analgesic agent that helps soothe and treat shingles. (2)

Things you’ll need:

tea tree oil and olive oil to treat shingles

  • Olive oil (reduces shingles discomfort) – 1 tablespoon
  • Tea tree essential oil (helps soothe the irritated skin) – 8 to 10 drops

Step 1. Squirt 8 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil in olive oil

add tea tree essential oil to olive oil to treat shingles

  • Start with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl.
  • Mix 8 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil into the olive oil.

Step 2. Apply the oil on the shingles rash

tea tree oil in olive oil to treat shingles

  • Rub the oil blend on the shingles rash.

Repeat 3 times a day for a week to treat shingles and get rid of the pain and infection.

Method 4: Acupuncture

Acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine has long been used to treat many ailments from pain to nausea. It has also been shown to be effective in many small studies for the treatment of herpes zoster pain and its complication post-herpetic neuralgia. (4)

acupuncture to treat shingles pain

In contacting an acupuncturist, ensure that he or she is licensed and has had experience in treating your specific condition.

Method 5: Use Cayenne Pepper

A powerful pain reliever, cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a compound with natural anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties that help get rid of pain from shingles, by its ability to counteract the effects of pain fibers in the body. (3)


Aloe vera contains soothing and cooling properties that help reduce pain and itching, while also speeding up the healing process. (4)

Things you’ll need:

cayenne pepper and aloe vera gel to treat shingles

  • Cayenne pepper (natural pain reliever) – 1 tablespoon
  • Aloe vera gel (helps reduce pain and itching) – 1 tablespoon

Step 1. Throw cayenne pepper and aloe vera gel in a bowl

add cayenne pepper and aloe vera gel for shingles

  • Put 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel as well.

Step 2. Mix the ingredients and apply on the affected skin

mix cayenne pepper and aloe vera gel to treat shingles

  • Combine the ingredients well.
  • Apply the mixture on the affected area.
  • Allow it to dry for 30 minutes. This may itch a bit, but the itching sensation will subside soon.

Repeat once every day for 10 days to reduce skin irritation and itching.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Take a shower with cold water to help alleviate the pain of shingles.
  • After a bath or shower, wash your towel in hot water to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • An ice compress is another effective alternative to get rid of the pain and infection.
  • Always keep the inflamed skin clean and dry. Expose the affected area to air as much as possible.
  • Do not pick at the blisters, as this will only worsen the condition.
  • If you aren’t able to prepare the home remedies, calamine lotion or capsaicin cream can be applied to the affected area to soothe the discomfort.
  • During the initial stages, the virus has chances of spreading from one person to another. Therefore, do not share towels, clothes, linens or flannels while suffering from the infection.


  1. John AR, Canaday DH. Herpes Zoster in the Older Adult. Infectious Disease Clinic of North America. Published December 2017.
  2. N P, N YRB, A. K. A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. International Journal of Dermatology. Published July 2013.
  3. Jeon YH. Herpes Zoster and Postherpetic Neuralgia: Practical ... The Korean Journal of Pain. Published July 2015.
  4. Roxas M. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: diagnosis and therapeutic considerations. Alternative Medicine Review. Published June 2006.
  5. Shebl RI, Amin MA, Emad-Eldin A, et al. Antiviral activity of liquorice powder extract against varicella zoster virus isolated from Egyptian patients. Chang Gung Medical Journal. Published 2012.
  6. Wachtel-Galor S. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). Cover of Herbal Medicine Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Published 2011.
  7. Shingles | About | Herpes Zoster | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Summary of How to Treat Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

treat shingles

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