Over-the-counter drugs are usually sufficient methods of pain relief for shingles sufferers. Naproxen and ibuprofen are effective, and are safe for most people to take.
Prescription Pain Relievers
Some people, especially older adults, experience severe nerve pain when diagnosed with shingles. Prescription painkillers may provide a measure of relief. Oxycodone is an example of a narcotic that might be used to treat shingles pain.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) reports that antiviral drugs such as famcyclovir, acyclovir or valcyclovir may reduce the intensity and lifespan of the painful symptoms of shingles. Antiviral medications must be used immediately after diagnosis in order to cut symptoms short.
A variety of other medications may be an effective pain relief treatment for shingles. Anti-convulsant drugs, tricyclic antidepressants and steroidal drugs may be prescribed.
Topical Pain Relief
Topical medications can alleviate shingles pain in some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Lidocaine or other anesthetics may be applied directly to the affected areas either in cream form or through a transdermal patch.
Bathing in a cool tub with oatmeal or baking soda can help reduce the pain and itching associated with shingles. Applying cool compresses to the blisters may also provide some relief.