TCM Treatment For Shingles/Herpes Zoster


About Shingles

Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it, caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The same virus also causes chickenpox.

Shingles can occur at any age, but is most common in people who are over 50. It can affect any part of the body. Areas commonly affected include the neck, shoulder, upper back, chest, abdomen, and in some cases, even the face or eyes. It causes a painful rash which develops into itchy blisters. It can cause severe nerve pain that lasts for many months, or even years, after the rash has gone.

What causes shingles?

Many people may get chickenpox during childhood, but after recovery, the virus remains dormant (inactive) in the nervous system. The immune system stops the virus from becoming active. However, later in life it can be reactivated and cause shingles.

It is not known exactly why the shingles virus is reactivated at a later stage in life to cause shingles, but a potential reason include having lowered immunity.

Shingles is Contagious

It is possible to contract the shingles through direct contact with fluid from the blisters of shingles patients. Therefore, people afflicted with shingles should avoid sharing towels or taking part in activities that involve close physical contact with others.

If the person has not had chicken pox before, he will get chicken pox instead of shingles.

Shingles become non-infectious when the blisters dry up to form scabs

Symptoms of shingles

An episode of shingles will normally last for 2 to 4 weeks. The patient will generally feel a tingling sensation in the affected area at first. This will be followed by pain, and then a rash.

  • Pain – patients experience a localized ‘band’ of pain in the affected area. The pain tends to be continuous, dull, or of a burning sensation and its intensity can vary from mild to severe. There may also be occasional stabbing pains. Some patients cannot even wear clothing or allow the area to be touched.
  • Rash – several days after the onset of pain, the rash will appear. It starts off as red blotches on the skin, and rapidly develops into itchy blisters; similar to those of chickenpox. The blisters may be there for about one week, and then become yellowish, flat, and dried out. A minor scar may be left on the skin.

Sometimes there may be additional symptoms including confusion, fatigue, fever, headache, upset stomach, abdominal pains, etc.

Complications of shingles

A number of complications can occur as a result of shingles. They are more likely if you have a weakened immune system or are elderly.

Post-herpetic neuralgia is the most common complication resulting from shingles. Some patients experience severe nerve pain if the nerves are damaged. The pain can last for a very long time; even years after the rash had disappeared.

TCM perspective of shingles

Shingles is explained in traditional Chinese medicine as the presence of pathogenic damp, heat and wind. It usually occurs along the liver or gall bladder meridians on the exterior of the body. If damp is predominant, the lesions are more likely to be in the lower part of the body, with more fluid discharge from the blisters. If heat predominates, blisters show more heat and redness and the pain is more severe. If wind predominates, the lesions are more likely to be in the upper part of the body with a more dominant itching sensation.

TCM physicians address the patient’s bodily condition, or “internal environment” directly. The diagnosis of “damp heat” actually relates to the condition of the patient’s system, which allows the virus to breed and create the outbreak. This diagnosis also allows the practitioner to provide the patient with practical, simple guidelines on what to do to help speed their recovery through means such as dietary advice (e.g. hot and spicy foods, fried foods and alcohol should be avoided during a shingles outbreak as they contribute to further “dampness and heat” within the body.)

Western Medicine Treatment for Shingles

There is no cure for shingles in the perspective of western medicine, but treatment can help ease the symptoms of shingles.

Treatment options include:

  • Antiviral medication that help to stop the virus from multiplying but do not cure the infection.
  • Painkiller medicines and topical creams to relieve symptoms

For more information, please visit WebMD.

According to a study released by Raffles Hospital in July 2015, it is found that a person with shingles pays an average of S$279 for his medicine and doctor's consultation fees, but this rises to S$3007 if he is hospitalized for about 3 days.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment for Shingles

TCM treatment of shingles is based on pattern differentiation according to the pathogenic factor and the meridian involved.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has proven to be very effective in treating shingles, especially when in the first stages. Not only can TCM treatment alleviate the excruciating pain and treat the blisters and rash, having TCM treatment during an shingles outbreak can significantly reduce the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia.

Likewise, post-herpetic neuralgia, though a very stubborn and painful condition, can be treated with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies. Again, it is much better to go for treatment sooner rather than later in this condition as well.

According to TCM, shingles usually affects older patients with weak constitution, or younger patients who are suffering from exhaustion. The more pronounced the weakness of the patient, the greater the likelihood of complications, and the more prolonged the course of the disease is likely to be. Unless the underlying condition is dealt with successfully, the possibility of relapse or prolongation of the disease is very high.

Our TCM physicians are experienced in treating this illness. If you are suffering from shingles, please come to our clinic for treatment as soon as possible, so that we can help to alleviate your pain and aid your recovery.
















  • 给予抗病毒药物以防止病毒继续繁殖
  • 给予止痛药和皮肤膏以缓解症状






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