Shingles diary

Body odor was the start of my troubles; now I wish it were my only problem.

November 2016:  My wife was annoyed that I can only use a little hypoallergenic antiperspirant.  I have sensitive armpits.  She suggested I wash them with antibacterial soap.  All was well for about a month.  But toward the end of November my right armpit got sore.  So I gave up on the soap.  Two weeks later, it was worse, despite careful washings and rinsings; and several inflamed bumps had risen up.  Putting a cold compress in my armpit seemed to help.

At about this time, something started itching on my back.  I couldn’t see or reach it.  It felt like a spider-bite; but in November?   I tried pulling a towel across it to get some relief, but it didn’t last.

December 2016: I paid my doctor a visit and guiltily told him about my soap experiment.  He looked at my armpit and poked a bump with a gloved finger; “Is this sensitive?”


“I have good news for you,” he said.  “The soap is innocent.  You have Shingles.”


“Yup.  You’ve got another outbreak on your back.”

“What should I do?”

“It’s gone on for too long for an antiviral do do any good.  So wait it out.  If you still have pain after three weeks, I can give you some drugs for the neuropathy.”

I thought he was wrong; the soap seemed like the obvious cause, and I’d had a shingles immunization (Herpes Zoster) in 2012.  Later I read that the vaccine is only 51% effective; but that it might reduce the severity of my disease.

In the next two days the rash spread above my right nipple to the middle of my chest, on my upper arm and on my back.  The sensation range expanded from itching and tenderness through poking, stabbing and burning.  A devil was stabbing me with his pitchfork!

  • My daughter had shingles 15 years ago.  I asked her what she’d done.  She said to soak the rash in a solution of Domeboro.  Later I read that this treatment is just for the stage when the rash blisters and weeps; gross!
  • A friend of of my wife’s said Tylenol with ibuprofen might reduce the pain.  This didn’t help much.
  • I read that Benedryl could reduce the itching.  This didn’t help much.
  • I tried “Stress, Headache and Bodyache Relief” lotion from Feel Good Products.  It does feel good, tho it doesn’t last.
  • I read that cold-packs and hot-packs are not recommended.

I tried everything, and got a little comfort.  Maybe just the comfort of doing something about it.  Clothing rubbing against it hurt.  It got so sensitive that even air blowing on my bare skin from the heat register hurt.

For the past couple of days, I’ve felt a bit better.  But the pain is shifting to the newer parts of the rash, which I suppose will have to go thru the same progression.

I hope to be well by New Years.  But I’m wondering; neuropathy?

I read that only one-fifth of sufferers get it.  Here’s hoping I’m just a normal case!

Mid-December: Although the rash was fading, it hurt even more.  I figured out a way to wear a soft old work-shirt by buttoning just the bottom three buttons and leaving my arm and shoulder uncovered, Roman-style.

  • “Blue Magic” lotion from Feel Good Products was soothing.

I asked my doctor for advice.  He said this is the neuropathy, and prescribed 10mg of Nortryptiline at bedtime, to be increased as needed.  The paperwork that came with the prescription said it was an antidepressant, and that a side effect was that it could make me feel depressed.  Contrary to the doctor’s instructions, the capsules were 25mg.  “This is scary stuff,” I decided.  I opened a capsule and poured half the powder into the garbage (you can’t flush it down the toilet).  It helped some, and I wasn’t depressed as far as I could tell.  Next night I took courage and had an entire 25mg.  I was still a bit sensitive, but I could wear clothes!

January: I resumed my normal life.  I forgot to take the Nortryptiline, and I still felt okay.  I was concerned to notice inflamed, itchy bumps on my left shoulder.  But some hydrocortisone cleared them up; they were just my normal psoriasis, welcome news at this point.

My wife met a woman who’s had shingles six or seven times!


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