Category Archives: SHINGLES


Off and on, I’ve been posting about itching,  rather as if it is one of my favorite hobbies.  I am starting to think that it may well be… at least it is my skin’s hobby. In the past 3 months I’ve really being good at itching, and it didn’t seem like I could come up with anything that would calm it. Even my beloved Four Thieves couldn’t touch it.  Nothing the dermatologist could prescribe or do would stop it.  The dermatologist started saying that I had eczema (at least, he was giving me a word, finally, but I was NOT HAPPY.  I don’t want to have eczema. That is not how I see myself).  The diagnosis gave me a point of reference from which to start researching how this got on me and how I could make it go away, or at least manage it.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, I suddenly got the brilliant idea to slather coconut oil all over my skin, where it itched and everywhere else, too. That worked pretty well, and the itching would abate some for a few hours.  I got used to smelling like coconut.  Then, two days ago, for some odd reason, it occurred to me to smear apple cider vinegar all over the itchy areas.  That stung quite a bit, so I figured it was going to work.  I slathered coconut oil over top once the ACV had dried.  After a few minutes of really hoping that the ACV effect was going to calm down, I was good to go (actually, it really wasn’t any worse than putting Four Thieves on a weepy shingles lesion).  The effect (NO ITCH!) lasted for about 12 hours, and then I repeated the ACV/coconut oil application again.  This morning (Day Three), I repeated my ACV/coconut oil protocol, and, yet again, I was mostly comfortable for about 12 hours.

So, since I have something good to report, something you might be able to use at some point, if not today, I’m posting the results of my experimental research on the one subject who lives in my room and sleeps in my bed (me!). The results of my research are not scientific, because I’ve only done it on me, but I can tell you that it worked when I was just about ready to hurt myself just to take my mind off the itch.

Meanwhile, interestingly, three days ago, one of my cousins posted her soap find for anti-aging annd rejuvenation on Facebook. (If you have eczema, I’m told, you have to be careful what soap you use).  I thought it sounded   like a good soap, and then I read the comments from her friends. One guy said that he had used the Black African Soap for his eczema…. lo, and behold! I used to use Black African Soap (another brand), and I never had eczema then! I friended the guy, in case he might say other things about life with eczema, and I turned around and ordered both the soap my cousin had mentioned and the Black African Soap this guy recommended: So, today, I received Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Soap with Frankincense and Myrrh as well as Shea Moisture African Black Soap. I am eagerly waiting to try them.  (I haven’t opened the packages but they both smell really nice (I think this brand of African Black Soap smells nicer than the one I used to use)

BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!!!!!  I’ve had this thing on my skin since forever (have asked the dermatologist about it many times), and then it changed color and started to be extremely uncomfortable/uber-itchy , to the point where I had to give up certain underpinnings to avoid further irritation.  The dermatologist has agreed to remove it in two weeks, but…. how to live that long?  Today, I decided to do something drastic… I doused it in undiluted oil of oregano, and then bit a towel for about 2 minutes, until the burning sensation wore off — MIRACLE!!!! I haven’t even noticed that place all day!!!!!!


Silly me! I mean, I am a nutritionist, but… I just never thought about it. There are nutritional steps you can take if you have shingles.

I got this from National Nutrition

* Avoid coffee, cola, and black tea – caffeine depletes nutrients needed to deal with stress
* Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
* Take  a Vitamin B complex, ase well a Vitamin C, Oregano Oil, and lysine to boost your immune system
* Use capsaicin cream or Four Thieves oil to relieve discomfort


Dear friends:
I have never thought that I would recommend a vaccination, and I am still not to the point that I would say I should have taken the shingles (it’s a crapshoot – you might not get shingles, right?)  Still, I am here to say that you might seriously want to consider it.

Most people only get shingles once. Almost all doctors will tell you that you can only get it once (I was lucky to run into a dermatologist who believes that people can get shingles more than once).  Still, interestingly, all of the doctors will tell you that once you have had shingles, the vaccine won’t work for you (why would you need it if you have already had it, and you can’t get it again, I wonder?)  This is my 19th episode, and my 18th was only about a month ago, on my face.

This time, it is under where I would wear my bra (just can’t do that right now, so major wardrobe restructuring going on).  I was talking to my mom, who has never had shingles but knows lots of old people (big population for shingles). I said it itches. She said shingles doesn’t itch. Okay. I sat around and thought about what I have heard about shingles. It is painful. Yep. But, I seem to be defining that pain/discomfort as the most unreal itch that can’t be assuaged, unless you claw a hole in your skin, and then it probably still wouldn’t feel better.
As a multiple-episode person, I’ll tell you that I ‘finally realize it’s shingles again when I realize that I cannot resist “petting” the place – I mean, I have to fight doing it, because “petting” it seems to reduce the discomfort (itch/pain/discomfort/agony– I’m going to tell you that scratching the heck out of it is really really satisfying, but I do know that I can make a hole in myself and that could make it worse, so I somehow manage not to do that, but “petting” helps – I think, if you have had shingles, you do know what I am talking about.  If you ever do get shingles, I feel certain that you will immediately know what I am talking about, regardless of what you call the discomfort.)

This is probably the most uncomfortable episode I have had, because it is all across my left boob. I carry my handbag on my left shoulder. I had no idea how many times my handbag touches my boob, nor how many times in the day a movement happens to touch a boob.  I sure do know now.  I call those moments “bright” ones  – it is like someone turned on a light bulb in a dark room when you weren’t ready. It is not like bumping a cut place. It is an exquisite agony. Then the place starts remembering that it is there and starts up with that “irritation feeling” (what some call pain, what I call itch – have you ever had surgery, and you can’t get at that place that is healing, and all those sensations you feel, and nothing you can do for it – that is what I am calling itch)

So, right now, I am using the last of my Zovirax twice or three times a day, and I put on some lavendar oil after I rub the Zovirax in. I carry Four Thieves oil with me, and put that on if I get to a point where I cannot deal with the “sensation”.   The Four Thieves gives a burning sensation at first (actually welcome – I can’t feel the other sensation), and then I don’t feel anything for a good while.)

I hope you don’t ever need this information. I really really do.  I have enemies, and people I don’t like, but I cannot imagine wishing this “fun” on any of them (are you hearing this, nasty people?) I would wish the flu on someone before I would wish this on them (if you’ve ever had the flu, you will understand – at least, with the flu, you sleep through most of it, and you imagine dying, and good stuff like that)

So, if you ever do happen to get shingles (because you, like me, don’t believe in vaccinations, or because you just didn’t get the vaccination, or because you had no clue), your name for the “sensation” may be different from mine, but, regardless, you should see your allopath (regular doctor), if you have one, and, if you don’t have insurance, put Four Thieves Oil on first (you’ll feel like howling), and then, later, put on lavender oil on. Four Thieves will make the sensation be quiet, after you stop wanting to scream, and lavender is a good follow-up, a couple of hours later, when you start getting antsy.

My protocol is: Zovirax in the morning, then lavendar oil on top of it. At work, Four Thieves when I start wanting to scratch a hole in myself.  More Zovirax when I come home, followed by lavender oil.

Yes, this is not totally natural,but it is the best I can do. I’ve been at this for about 6 or 7 years. I am tired. I am lazy. I want it just to stop.

I think that sometimes, you have to see what works for you, and combine that with other things that work – I have followed all of the natural cures, but this Zovirax works great for me (okay, it might kill me down the line, especially since I use it only a little less than I use toothpaste, but it sure does help)  Still, especially since I am probably going to have to discontinue my health insurance since I can’t afford it (I mean, I can go to the doctor or pay my rent), I am very into the natural treatments, which do work very well if I don’t have any other option.

NO-SEE-UM’s WAR REVISITED – Compendium of Recommendations

A while back, I wrote on “no-see-ums”whatever that is that bites you and you can’t see it, but you start itching like crazy — not bedbugs, not mosquitos, not fleas, not lice(those you can see)  – and it only happens, usually, in specific places.  The big symptom of “no-see-ums” is uncontrolled itching – you can scratch yourself bloody before you even notice you’re doing it.  

No-see-ums can make you wonder if you’re losing your mind – you may find yourself scratching yourself raw before you even realize you’re doing it, while others, even in the same room, may not recognize the issue.  If you think you are getting bitten, you are getting bitten. It is not in your mind, even though you can’t see what is biting you (I believe that no-see-ums can be in one part of a room but not in another, and that some people in the room may be more susceptible to them than others: case in point: I teach in a private adult education facility, and, sometimes, I will be scratching myself to pieces and no one else will be affected, while, at other times, several other people will complain that they feel they have been bitten by something). 

A number of people have written their comments, or their requests for help, or, even, sometimes things they have found useful, so I’m going to reprise the topic, and list what I have found useful, as well as ideas I’ve gotten from readers who have told me what has worked for me.

A couple of ways to double-check, if you want to prove to  yourself that it is nothing else:

  1. Are you getting this reaction all the time? If so, could it be that you are allergic to something you are eating? Figure out what you have eaten in the past 2 hours before the “attack”, and eliminate that from your diet for a day or two and see if the itching stops.
  2. Do you get this reaction in specific places, but not in others?  If so, you’ve got no-see-ums in the place where you’re having the reaction.  (If you have it anyplace at all, then go back to #1)
  3. Do people doubt what you say about getting bitten in a specific place where they have not been? Do people disbelieve you just because it is not happening to them?  These are both signs that there are some no-see-ums where you are when you experience the itching.  (They seem to be place-specific, and, even in one room, they might be in one spot, but not 10 feet away)

Now, if you do believe that you have a no-see-ums issue, you can take some evasive action:
FOUR THIEVES OIL OR VINEGAR – this antiseptic/anti-viral formula really works for taking out the itch. The vinegar recipe takes a while to make, but you can but it on food (so you might develop an immunity – I haven’t personally explored that idea), but the problem is that you will smell like vinegar.  The oil recipes smell kind of nice (people often ask me what fragrance I’m wearing), and you can carry them with you and apply the oil as soon as you notice you’re itching – it might sting a bit at first, but it will take the itch away, and it has antibiotic properties, so, if you’ve already drawn blood, it will protect against infection.  This is one remedy I swear by – I always carry a little bottle of Four Thieves oil with me.

LAVENDER OIL – This is an antiseptic essential oil which will help with the itch and does seem to stop the bites from coming. I carry it with me always, as it is a good emergency remedy, and, if I have nothing better, I use it for no-see-ums. It works reasonably well for me and smells very nice, as well. I don’t think it works as well as other remedies for spraying a space, though.

BABY OIL – Someone suggested this one, and, although baby oil is not organic or anything close to natural, I will still go with it because it seems to repel the no-see-ums — if you slather it all over your skin, you get a moisturizer and you don’t get bitten.  It works as a repellent, and it doesn’t worry people too much if you drag it out and start rubbing it all over your arms (where I usually get hit)

LEMON GRASS/LEMON GRASS ESSENTIAL OIL  – A reader suggested planting lemon grass around one’s home to prevent entry – this reader felt that the lemon grass all around the home kept the no-see-ums from coming in.  I live in a New York City apartment (I haven’t had no-see-ums here, but…), and I work in a New York City office building (no way to plant lemon grass there), but I have found some apartment-friendly/public space-acceptable solutions: 

  • At home, you can burn dried lemon grass as incense, or you can add organic lemon grass essential oil to water and spray it in areas where  no-see-ums seem to get you, or else all over the place.  
  • At work, you can surreptitiously spray the lemon grass/water mix around where you feel you’re getting bitten (it smells nice, and, since, or course, you are using organic lemon grass essential oil, no one should complain, because it is good for lots of things, including bad smells in your workspace)


Yesterday morning, I suddenly realized that I had a “nifty” full-blown case of shingles… again!  (I don’t want to sound like I am bragging, but this is my 15th occurrence of shingles.  I say this because most physicians will tell you that you can only get it once.  My dermatologist told me, when I mentioned my experience, that it is, in fact, possible to get shingles more than once.   So… if you have had it more than once, don’t feel discouraged when they laugh in your face… if you have had it once, you are an expert and can recognize it if it ever comes back.  Stick to your guns.  I only wish I had been seriously documenting all these occurrences. I could probably get listed on some list of medical freaks, and, perhaps, even be paid for being studied by people who want to know how I can do this so well– I mean, I am really good at shingles).

Anyway, at first, I feared I had a skin cancer (a sore which would not heal), or worse, some kind of  breast cancer (this sore was on my breast and there was a long line of red on either end of it).  Washing it with my hand, I felt the tell-tale “bubbles”, and knew it was shingles again.  (This occurrence is really annoying because I cannot wear a bra.  I have to wear a tight-ish t-shirt under a baggy blouse or sweater)  

I went to the dermatologist’s office without calling to make an appointment and begged to have him see me, citing shingles as a life-threatening emergency.    When the doctor saw me, he immediately agreed with my diagnosis, but he refused to give me the Zovirax cream, saying that it wasn’t very good (I’m sorry, but I am an expert at what works for my shingles!  I want Zovirax!)  He gave me pills which affect me just about the way “walking chemo” affects people who have that – no energy,  disorientation, etc.  I’m taking it anyway, but I still have THE PAIN.  

I got out my bottle of Four Thieves Oil and spread it all over the shingle lesion.  Woo-hoo!  Major agony (although not as bad as the agony of non-stop shingles pain).  The sting of the Four Thieves Oil lasted about 1 minute, and then there was no pain at all. I almost forgot about the shingles.  

The relief lasts about 4 hours, so I need to tote the bottle with me and re-apply, but, at least, I can be in control (who wants people to be watching them stroking the side of their boob all the time)