Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.
Who is at Risk?
Certain people have a greater risk for shingles than others:
- Anyone who has ever had chickenpox
- People over the age of 60
- People with weakened immune systems (for example, people with immune disorders like HIV or AIDS, people on immunosuppressant drugs for organ transplants, people on chemotherapy, people with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc. who are taking immunosuppressant drugs to control this condition)
Everyone knows that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true for shingles. The best way to avoid shingles is to keep your immune system in top shape. Do this by:
- Eating healthy
- Drinking plenty of water
- Exercising at least 3 times per week
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Taking an immunity enhancing supplement
If you get shingles anyway, there are methods for treatment. One of these is aloe vera. Aloe has been used to treat skin problems for many years. You are probably familiar with the use of aloe vera to treat sunburns. Aloe is a succulent plant with a cool, gooey interior.
Aloe and Shingles
- The best way to use aloe to treat your shingles is to obtain a real aloe plant. Cut the leaves off the plant and filet them. Cut each leaf in half lengthwise to maximize the surface area of the gel. Then place the leaves on the skin, gooey side down. Alternately, the gel can be scraped out of the leaf and applied to the skin.
- If you cannot get your hands on a real aloe plant, you could try purchasing aloe gel. Go to your local health food or natural products store and look for real aloe gel. It is usually in a dark brown glass bottle to prevent exposure to light. Be careful to buy gel and not juice. Juice is very liquid and will not adhere to the skin well. Simply apply the gel to the skin as often as you want.
- There are also commercially-available "aloe gels." These are not recommended because they are highly unnatural. These are often artificially colored so that they are a bright, acid green. They also contain alcohol, which is not good to put on damaged skin. Avoid using these to treat shingles as they can make the irritation worse.
- Do not try to drink or eat aloe to treat shingles. Aloe is a powerful laxative and will not help your skin when taken internally.
- Topical use (on the skin) of aloe has no negative side effects.