Shingles is a painful skin rash that comes from the same virus as chickenpox. It typically affects older adults and is generally seen around the torso or head. What many people don’t know, however, is that shingles can also attack other areas of the body. This article will look at what are the best topical ointment for shingles and how to treat them when they appear in unusual locations, such as the groin.
Rashes caused by shingles appearing at the groin area may be mistaken for other medical conditions such as:
- Jock itch, which appears as a reddish or discolored, half-moon rash forming small blisters and scaly skin. This fungal infection can develop at the groin when the area is sweaty, thus providing moisture for the infection to take hold. It is often characterized by itchiness, but unlike shingles, there is no accompanying sharp pain. This fungal infection takes hold in areas moist with sweat, such as the groin, which is an optimal area for the infection to take hold.
- Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to allergens such as poison ivy or a chemical in clothing or laundry detergent. It typically appears as a dry, scaly rash. Rashes may occur at the groin area as it is triggered by your skin rubbing against clothing.
- Prickly heat or heat rash, which appears as small red or discolored bumps often where sweat is trapped against your skin. The groin is susceptible to prickly heat, particularly in hot weather.
One of the distinguishing features of shingles that is different from the medical conditions mentioned above is a blistering rash that is only on one side of your body, typically covering a small area. If the rash is not on both sides of your groin, it is possible that you may have gotten shingles (Roland, 2021).
Medical treatment of shingles for the groin include:
- Prescription antiviral medicines such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir reduce the duration and severity of the infection. This is most effective when started within 72 hours of the onset of the rash
- The best topical ointments for relieving shingles typically contain acyclovir, lidocaine or capsaicin
- Lotions containing calamine that can be used on open lesions to reduce pain and itching
- Anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids, or numbing agents to help relieve pain (Stankus et al., 2000)
- Applying a wet compress to the area of skin that is experiencing pain and inflammation
- Oral intake or topical applications of antihistamines to relieve the itchiness
Other forms of treatment for the shingles rashes around the groin include:
- Keeping the rash clean and dry, covering the rash with loosely bound dressing for protection, and wearing loose-fitting clothing to reduce discomfort
- Using cool water to bathe, which not only helps to keep sores and blisters clean but also relieves soreness and itchiness
- Adding colloidal (or ground) oatmeal or baking soda to cool bath water to moisten the skin and to soothe sensitive and inflamed skin around the affected area
- Using a cool compress to provide relief for pain and itching
If your rash is located in your groin area, it is recommended that you visit a doctor as soon as possible so that they can prescribe an appropriate treatment plan. This will reduce the risk of spreading the rash to others or developing significant complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, characterized by persistent pain for months or even years after the rash from shingles clears up.
Roland, J. (2021, June 1). Shingles on your leg and groin: Symptoms, pictures, and more. Healthline.
Stankus, S. J., Dlugopolski, M., & Packer, D. (2000, April 15). Management of herpes Zoster (Shingles) And Postherpetic Neuralgia. American Family Physician.