On a regular schedule, if your pain is hard to control
Narcotics pain relievers can:
Make you feel sleepy and confused. Do not drink alcohol or use heavy machinery while you are taking them.
Make your skin feel itchy.
Make you constipated (not able to have a bowel movement easily). Try to drink more fluids, eat high-fiber foods, or use stool softeners.
Cause nausea (sick to your stomach). Taking your narcotics with food may help.
Other Medicines for Post-herpetic Neuralgia
Your health care provider may prescribe skin patches that contain lidocaine (a numbing medicine). These may relieve some of your pain for a short period of time.
Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin (an extract of pepper), may also reduce your pain.
Two other types of prescription drugs may help reduce your pain. You must take them every day, and they may take several weeks before they begin to help.
Anti-seizures drugs. Gabapentin and pregabalin are the ones that are used most often.
Drugs to treat pain and depression, most often ones called tricyclics, such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline
Both types of these drugs have side effects. If you have uncomfortable side effects, do NOT stop taking your medicine without talking with your health care provider first. Your provider may change your dose or prescribe a different medicine.
What Else Can Help?
Many non-medical techniques can help you relax and reduce the stress of chronic pain. Some of them are:
A common type of talk therapy for people with chronic pain is called cognitive behavioral therapy. It may help you learn how to cope with and manage your responses to pain.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if:
Your pain is not well-managed.
You think you may be depressed or you are having a hard time controlling your emotions.
Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed.St. Louis,Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 12.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.