Does shingles leave scars? The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. For some people, the blisters caused by shingles scab over in 7-10 days, fall off, and reveal healthy skin underneath in two to four weeks. However, for other individuals (especially those with weakened immune systems) the wounds may remain open and heal with visible scars after the healing process has taken place. The degree of scar formation is also proportional to the severity of the acute attack and whether there is any destruction of areas of the skin (Netdoctor, 2015). If you are currently experiencing an outbreak, or have had a bout of shingles in your lifetime, then you must know what to expect as far as scarring is concerned. This blog post discusses whether or not there are any treatments available for preventing these scars from forming on your body after an episode of shingles takes place.
While the infection is active and the blisters are still open, measures that you can take to reduce scarring include:
- Keeping the rash dry and clean.
- Covering the rash, if possible, with a non-stick dressing to avoid spreading the virus to others. Antibiotic creams or sticking plasters on the blisters are not recommended as these may interfere with the healing process or cause the wound to reopen.
- Trying your best not to scratch the rash as it may cause infection and scarring of the blisters. Using a cold compress, taking some antihistamines, or adding colloidal (or ground) oatmeal or baking soda to cool bath water can help relieve the itchiness.
- Gently patting yourself dry with a clean towel after a bath or shower instead of rubbing or using the towel to scratch yourself. Do not share towels as this may cause others to be infected as well.
- Wearing loose cotton clothes around the affected parts of the body.
- Not applying any creams or gels while the blisters are still open might increase secondary bacterial infection risk. (Healthdirect, 2021)
After the infection is no longer active, you may attempt some of the treatments that are listed below:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) creams: Some OTC scar-removal creams and ointments may help remove scars. Look for creams containing retinol or glycolic acid.
- OTC chemical peels: Some OTC chemical peels are also available, although these may not be as effective as professional peels provided by a doctor.
- Silicone sheets: Usually, these sheets are applied to the scars daily for a fixed period. Using these sheets may help hydrate the scarred tissue, causing scars to fade.
- Natural remedies: There are several natural remedies to choose from. Aloe vera and honey, turmeric powder, garlic, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, rosehip oil, or even cabbage can be made into a paste and applied topically. Some natural remedies can be consumed orally, such as green tea. However, the efficacy of these treatments has yet to be proven.
Finally, if you have had a bad attack and have a lot of scarring, it is recommended to check in with a general practitioner who may refer you to a skin specialist or a plastic surgeon to address your concerns. Methods they may employ include laser therapy, dermabrasion, or micro needling.
There are many solutions to choose from that can help reduce the severity or appearance of any scars after an outbreak of shingles. Still, it’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently. What works for one person might not work for another, so experimentation with various treatments is suggested.
Shingles. Healthdirect. (2021, April 1).
Netdoctor. (2015, February 18). Will my shingles scars ever go? Netdoctor.