The condition is caused by the same virus as chickenpox, Herpes zoster, which can lie dormant in the body after an attack of chickenpox, and flare up many years later, usually in adult life, and most often when the person is stressed or physically run down.
The virus affects sensory nerves before they enter the spinal cord, and causes clusters of blisters on the area of skin served by the affected nerves. These can be very painful indeed, and the pain is usually felt before the blisters appear. It may be accompanied by fever for a few days, but this is not always so. After the blisters have disappeared, pain may persist, sometimes for many weeks or months.
The essential oils of Bergamot, Eucalyptus and Tea tree are very helpful in easing the pain and drying the blisters. These oils are analgesic, and have an anti-viral action, and they seem to work better in combination than either of them alone. It is interesting to note that Bergamot is one of the finest antidepressant oils in the whole repertoire of the aromatherapist, and people who develop shingles are often tense, anxious or depressed before the attack. The pain of an attack is, in itself, cause of further depression, so this oil would be valuable if that were its only action. But the fact that it is also active against the Herpes virus makes it doubly so.
If the area of blisters and pain is small, a 50/50 blend of Bergamot and Eucalyptus can be applied neat. The best method, and that which causes least pain, is to use a soft paintbrush to apply the oil. If a larger area is affected, you might either make a solution of the oils in alcohol, or use them to add to baths. A combination of painting the blistered and painful area several times a day, and an aromatic bath at night is probably the most effective.
Although the accepted orthodox view is that nothing can be done for shingles except to ease the symptoms, and that the attack cannot be shortened, experience shows otherwise. There are a number of cases where the use of Bergamot and Eucalyptus has reduced the length of time that the blisters persisted, and the amount and duration of pain, to considerably less than what is normally experienced or expected.
Where pain persists long after the blisters have disppeared, Lavender and Camomile oils can be alternated with, or substituted for Bergamot and Eucalyptus, or a blend, such as Bergamot and Lavender can be used.