Posted by: Gregoryno6 | April 18, 2010

Dealing with the unwanted guests.

(Note 29/04/2013: This item is still viewed from time to time although it’s three years old. My understanding of my problem has changed considerably – if you’re a fellow sufferer, please be sure to read the update at the end.)

Just on eighteen months ago I was for a brief time a living, breathing Harvey Dent.

Say hello to herpes zoster – better known as the shingles virus.

I can report with relief that the facial manifestations disappeared fairly quickly. The antiviral medications eradicated the scabs and sores – and quite possibly saved the sight in my left eye too. But I was left with a couple of nagging symptoms. Nerves in the skin below the eye became oversensitive: placing a fingertip there and moving it was like tugging on a spiderweb. I could feel the nerves moving inside the flesh. Creepy. And there was a general itchiness around the wider region. Like the tingle you get after a visit to the dentist and the anaesthetic begins to wear off.

The pharmaceuticals, although they halted the disease, couldn’t do much to erase these lingering after-effects. So I turned to alternative therapies. Acucpuncture had some benefits, but I relied more on Rhus Tox and Quentakehl. A local chemist suggested I try Vitamin C. This helped further, but the most effective therapy came into my hands more or less by accident.  Last month they were all out of the Vitamin C preparation, and the young assistant suggested I try the Echinacea capsules instead.

I took them. I admit I was rather skeptical. Within a few days I changed my mind. I had more energy; at the same time, red spots began to break out on my feet and stomach. The bugs were coming out to die. The irritated area on my face contracted. One effect of the virus was that working at a computer made my left eye sore after a short time; that condition has disappeared.

Most surprising though was the reaction on my hands. I had warts as a boy – they first appeared on my feet when I was ten. From what I’ve learnt about that virus I suspect I picked them up in the showers after swimming lessons. The warts faded after a while, but later in my mid-20s they turned up on my hands. They’ve become an annual irritation, arriving with the spring. Warmer weather activated them and my hands would become very itchy. They concentrated most in the upper parts of one finger and thumb, and as soon as I began with the echinacea these areas showed an increased activity. But there was very little itching, only spots appearing and quickly fading. Much to my surprise other places on my hands reacted in the same way, places where there had never been any irritation. The skin grew hard and dry for a few days then returned to normal.

I continued with the echinacea for five weeks in all. It is a potent medication, and I was dosing myself at well over the recommended limit. I’ve been watching my hands, and there has been a small resurgence of the warts there, but in small areas. The virus has not staged any sort of a massive comeback. My improved energy levels have persisted – over the last few years even my regular walk to the shops on Saturday had become a tiring effort, but lately it’s been no trouble whatsoever. Theorising strictly as a layman, I would say that my immune system had been carrying these bugs and containing them for so long that weariness had come to seem normal to me. The bugs were pretty much in command of the show – but not any more!

UPDATE 20/04/2010 Greetings to those who found this blog by searching with ‘symptoms of facial shingles’. Symptoms enough here for you? I hope so!

This piece was viewed by more than 20 people in its first 48 hours. Feel free to leave a comment about your own experiences and what worked, or didn’t work, for you. Link to your own photos: don’t be shy, some of the best people around have suffered with this.

New update 29/04/2013

Since posting this in 2010 I have realised that a lot of the issues I described here had nothing to do with the shingles. I’ll try to untangle the knot.

The non-shingles symptoms first. The red spots and itching were not warts, but connected to poor diet over many years. I’ve been a steady consumer of various iced coffee drinks since my teens, and my liver was growing progressively more sluggish. I reduced my consumption of dairy foods – still, the iced coffees were a difficult habit to break. I managed to stay off for short periods, and noticed that the itchy spots would diminish when I did. I added a serve of cooked barley to my breakfast, replacing the usual cereal.

More recently I began sampling alternative non dairy milks. I found rice milk to be a very satisfactory substitute.
As for the shingles… the news is not quite so positive. It was a mistake to wait a week until I saw a doctor. Some nerve damage was done, and the research I’ve done suggests that this is with me for the rest of my life. It’s not a constant tormenting pain and I’m far luckier than some other people hit by shingles. But it can be an annoyance.
The best solution I’ve found is Evening Primrose Oil. At first I took it internally in gel capsules, but I found the digestive side effects outweighed the benefits. Instead I apply the oil directly to the affected area. This has a soothing effect, dulling down the itch.

I hope you find something in all this that helps you.


  1. This is a good news story if ever there was one. What luck that the chemist was out of Vitamin C and that young person was on duty with the suggestion. I am seriously considering taking echinacea after reading this. Hopefully it won’t interact with my arthritis drugs which don’t seem to be working anyway. And I like your theory about the bugs taking over your immune system. It is like our computers being slowed down by viruses and other bugs etc. I will investigate…oh dear, a quick Google just told me that it would not be a good idea for me to take it as I am taking Methotrexate ( Nevermind it is working for you and that is all that matters.

    • I certainly wouldn’t mix echinacea with other meds. It accelerates the metabolism – as did the antivirals the doc gave me; I didn’t know that at the time and wondered why I was walking around with a pounding headache – and thus raises the body temperature. I recall some reports of people overdosing with this stuff and dying, so it’s something to treat with respect. Perhaps it would be possible to rest the Methotrexate for a couple of weeks and substitute echinacea, Michelle. I would be interested to hear the results.

  2. Such a good story, One of my kids suffers from warts. Might get him onto it. Certainly worth a try. I’m also going to give it a try…even if it’s just to regain some of my energy levels.

    • Refer to my warning to Michelle Lorraine, but it is worth a try. I was using this product:
      It is a high strength formulation. I had to change to a different product after the first week because I couldn’t get a fresh supply -during that week I saw a fresh outbreak on the affected fingers. Moving back to the first product halted and reversed that.

  3. Reading your stuff is always great fun… you have such a way with words… Now don’t mistake me, I don’t find your misfortune fun just how you share it.

    • What you’re trying to say is, you showed Josh the photo and he screamed “^%$* that’s UGLY!”

  4. Yes, I’ve read your warning and will look into it more.

  5. btw…that image of yours should be rated PGR. 😛

    • I missed Halloween by just a few days – damn, I was angry about that.

  6. i love this G6 – i own a wellness centre with several natural therapies practitioners and i’m going to pass this story along – good news all around 🙂 mp

    • A wellness centre? I had you tagged for pole-dancing school myself.
      But to be serious for a moment. I personally found the echinacea easier to take than the Vitamin C. I have always had a problem with citrus fruits – they bring on a headache. With the Vit C I could only take it for two or three days at a stretch before I had to rest for a day. The echinacea headaches were not so intense and I was able to persist for several weeks with it.

    • You might also mention these changes, mp. For a long time I’ve had white spots appearing on my fingernails – opinions vary as to the cause of this, I know, but I’ve been getting them for years and now they’re gone.
      And I used to have terrible problems with the skin between my toes getting cracked and raw. I’m not using any less foot powder than I have before but this condition has cleared up too.

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