Shingle Blisters Turning Black? Reasons and Solutions

Shingles is a very common disease that may develop at any age. However, this fact doesn’t reduce its seriousness at all. Any unusual changes in the blisters or their surroundings would surely be worrying! 

So, you’re wondering why are shingle blisters turning black?

To know this, you’ll first have to understand the 4 stages of shingle blisters. Then you’ll automatically know that blisters turning black is a natural healing process. Along with this, to speed up this healing process, you may wish to know the home remedies in addition to the medical treatments.

To answer your question in detail with the other crucial information, a single paragraph is not enough. Thus, a whole article is written on this topic! 

So without any more delay, start your timer and quickly jump into the article to clear all your confusion.

What Exactly are Shingles?

Shingle is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus responsible for chickenpox!

Most of us have had chickenpox at some point in our lives. We may have thought those difficult days of walking around with blisters are over. But, who knew the virus that caused chickenpox is still in our bodies. 

shingle-blisters-turning-black

Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV)

Well yes, shingles are caused by none other than the virus responsible for chickenpox.

Varicella-zoster virus, that was simply waiting for an opportunity to show up as shingles! 

When a person is cured of chickenpox, the VZV does not go away from the body. It settles down in various nerve tissues of the body. Due to the immunity the body acquired against chickenpox, the virus is unable to replicate anymore and remains dormant.

This dormant stage may last for decades. In some people, the virus stays dormant forever! 

However, if a person has a weakened immune system the virus may reactivate.

In this case, the VZV travels through the nerves and rises up to the skin. This condition is called shingles.

Shingles are mostly focused on a particular area of the body. 

They form blisters that may cause pain, itching, and skin discoloration. 

The good news is that shingles usually don’t last for more than 4 weeks. Although, complications in some people may cause them to last a lot longer.

Quick Facts on Shingles 

  • Most people don’t get shingles twice!
  • They mostly occur in older people ( 50+) due to their weakened immune system.
  • They may occur in cancer or HIV patients.
  • They can also occur around the eyes!
  • Shingle complications can make their pain last forever.
  • 1 in 3 people get shingles

Now, having covered the basics in shingles, let’s look at the trouble-making blisters in more detail.

4 Stages of Shingles Blisters

Shingles blisters develop, stay and go away in 4 simple stages. 

Stage 1: Numbness

Initially, shingles start with a numbing sensation. People tend to feel tingling, numbing, or burning sensations in the affected areas of their bodies.

These symptoms can vary from person to person. In some, they can be accompanied by immense pain. This pain can be so much that it might even hurt by the slightest touch of clothes! While in others, the skin might just get numb.

These can also be followed by

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Discomfort

These symptoms can occur in many other diseases. Thus, it’s a good idea to keep in mind how to fix and avoid headaches

At this stage, it’s hard to forecast the upcoming shingles blisters, but it’s best to keep the symptoms in mind.

Stage 2: Initial Rashes

Then, within 3-5 days of having these sensations, rashes start to develop. Areas on the skin turn red, with small bumps. These painful bumps are rashes.

Rashes may cause burning pain and also itching.

This is the best stage for getting medical attention. If diagnosed and taken care of at this initial stage, further complications from shingles can be avoided. Thus, it is good to keep in the knowledge that next time you notice these symptoms in someone, ask them to see a doctor immediately.

On a side note, we all know how unsightly a rash might look. But, did you ever wonder what happens if a rash looks like a hickey? A quick five minutes read will get you updated on some types of rashes.

Stage 3: Blisters

Within 7 days of rash development, the rashes will grow into blisters.

Blisters are painful, fluid-filled bumps on the skin.

They are usually pink or purple in color but may look darker brown in dark-skinned people.

This is the contagious stage of shingles. The fluid that is filled in the blisters contains the varicella-zoster virus. The blisters will pop and this contaminated fluid will leak out every now and then in this stage. 

So, it can contaminate anyone coming in contact with it. If the person who comes in contact with shingles blisters did not have chickenpox or its vaccine yet, most likely they will get the disease.

Thus, it’s best to maintain a distance or cover up the blisters during this stage. 

Stage 4: Crust

After about 5 days of living with blisters, the blisters will start forming a crust. The fluid that leaks out of them will start drying up forming a thick upper layer on the blisters.

This is the starting of shingle blisters turning black. 

After the crust or scab has started forming, the blisters are no longer contagious. These crusts stay for about a few weeks and then clear out on their own. 

And that’s it! No more shingles!

Additionally, it’s not wrong to wonder how to get rid of scabs faster.

Reasons for Shingle Blisters Turning Black

Well then, you’ve looked at all the stages of blisters. By now, I’m sure you got a gist of why shingle blisters might be turning black

It simply means the blisters are scabbing.

After a blister opens up and the fluid inside of it leaks out, it creates an opening to the inside of the body. Thus, the body uses its defense system to protect itself from infection. It clots up platelets (a component of blood), along with many other blood cells to cover up the opening. This is what forms a crust. The crust may look dark red and black.

Thus, if your shingle blisters turning black, that’s good news! Nothing to be worried about at all. It means your shingle blisters are healing. Just a few more weeks and your skin can look all normal again.

Although blisters mostly go away on their own, I’m sure the need to get rid of them quickly is a matter of importance. Thus, I’ve provided some treatments that can be used to help the shingle blisters heal faster. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump to the treatments.

What Should You Do Now? 

Well, there are several home remedies along with many medical treatments that can be used to heal shingle blisters faster. 

I should emphasize that it is important to seek medical help before trying home remedies.

Home Treatment

Home treatments may be a little slow and require patience, but their effectiveness can not be questioned. 

So, while you’re still getting a doctor’s appointment, try some home remedies to soothe the blisters.

Use Cold Compress

  • Wet a towel in cold water.
  • Wring the towel
  • Apply the towel in the affected area

Do these 3 steps and get perfectly soothing blisters. Applying a cold compress does not only soothes the healing blister but also reduces any pain with it. 

But remember, do not apply cold water or ice directly as the extreme temperature may cause more harm to the blister.

Use Baking Soda

Along with baking soda being good for other diseases like diabetes, it also helps to dry out a blister faster. 

Take 2 teaspoons of baking soda or cornstarch in a cup and put 1 teaspoon of water. Make a paste and apply it to the blisters. Rinse them off after 10-15 minutes. And voila! Prepare to see your blisters dry out way faster than they normally would!

Also, this may need to be repeated multiple times a day.

If the paste is not sufficient, increase the amount of baking soda and water, just remember to keep the ratio the same.

Try Tea-Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil has antibacterial properties. Applying an ointment of such an ‘essential oil’ may help prevent infection of the scab and help it work better.

A point to remember is that some people might be allergic to tea tree oil so make sure to try a patch test. In that case, diluting the oil with another oil might also help. This will mostly help if used before the blisters start scabbing.

Other essential oils include 

  • Eucalyptus oil which has anti-inflammatory properties that mostly help cancer patients.
  • Chamomile oil which helps skin-cell regeneration.

Maintain Diet

Food is the most important factor if you want blisters to heal faster. 

Since shingles mainly occur due to a weakened immune system, improving the immune system might be the best thing to do.

Have lots of vitamins-rich food to speed up the healing process. 

For example- Orange, Tangerine, Grapes, Spinach, Broccoli, and mostly all green leafy vegetables are also helpful. 

Along with these, red meat and egg will also give the body strength to fight infections.

Medical Treatment

As effective as the old saying ‘nothing can beat home remedies’, maybe. It’s equally/more important to get medical treatment.

 Many times, lack of medical care can worsen a disease. Thus, let’s have a look at some medical treatments for shingle blisters.

  1. Antibiotic Ointment 

Antibiotic ointments like Polysporin or Neosporin may be used to prevent infection on the blisters or scabs.

  1. Soothing lotions

Lotions and creams may be used to soothe the area and avoid irritation. Lotions containing the ingredient capsaicin are more beneficial. Capaicun helps to ease the pain. Also, numbing creams like lidocaine can be used to numb the area.

  1. Over The Counter Medications

OTC medicines may be taken to reduce pain. This can include ibuprofen (for example, Montril or Advil), or acetaminophen (for example Tylenol) 

  1. Antiviral Medications 

These are best if taken from the starting of shingles. Antiviral drugs help get rid of the virus quickly and cure the disease fast. Also, it prevents long-term effects or complications of shingles.

Before having any of the above-mentioned medications, you must consult a doctor to be sure about your condition.

That is all on the treatments of shingles.

Some Important Don’ts

Now that you’ve seen all that can be done to heal shingle blisters turning black faster, it’s necessary to see what to not do as well.

  • Do Not scratch or pick the blisters at this stage. If you do so, the crusts will not form easily and blisters may get infected.
  • Do not use thick ointment or petroleum jelly on the blisters, otherwise they won’t dry up easily. These can be used once the scabs have fully formed.
  • Do not use hot water as it will worsen the blisters
  • Don’t stress as this might reduce your body’s efficiency in working.

FAQs

How long does it take for shingle blisters to scab over?

It takes about 7-12 days for scabs to form. They get cleared in about a month. This time range may vary from person to person. For those with a good immune system, scabs may form and get removed a lot sooner.

Which foods make shingles worse?

Foods rich in amino acid, arginine makes shingles worse. It actually helps the virus to replicate. These foods include chocolate, gelatin, and nuts.

Is the sun good for shingles?

Nope, extreme heat will worsen the blisters. Blisters are very sensitive, thus any extreme temperature, heat, or cold will be bad for them. 

How to cover shingle blisters to prevent contamination?

Cover the blisters using loose, non-sticky bandages. Another way would be to wear loose, cotton clothes. Remember to frequently change the bandages.

Take Away 

Well, then you’ve just covered a whole syllabus on shingles. You learned all about its stages, treatments and some do’s and don’ts. 

Now you know shingle blisters turning black is nothing to be worried about at all. Just go with the flow, and see your shingles disappear within a few weeks! I hope this article was worth a read!

Thank you for reading!

Sumaiya Hasan

Sumaiya Hasan

Hello readers! I'm Sumaiya, an enthusiastic microbiology student from North South University. I love to read & learn about anything new, especially if they're related to health. I believe people should be better educated about their health, and I'm proud to be able to contribute to their knowledge earning process.

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