What Not to Eat if You Have Shingles

 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

foods to avoid with shingles

If you have shingles, you probably try to avoid foods that trigger it, just like how people with other conditions manage their diet.

Whether it be some adverse reaction or just an uncomfortable feeling, we’ve all learned which foods work and which ones do not work for us.

By weathering some popular myths and understanding the causes, it’s really important to talk about which foods to avoid with shingles.

Tell me About Shingles Infections

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a virus that causes a painful, blistering rash. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and it can be very dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.

The virus enters your body through your skin and travels along nerve fibers to your spinal cord or brain. There it causes the characteristic blisters and itching.

The symptoms of shingles usually start with a tingling sensation in one area of your body, like your belly or chest.

Then you’ll see a rash on that spot—it will be red, raised, and painful. The rash then spreads out in a band-like pattern. The blisters can break open and crust over as they heal.

What Causes Shingles to Activate?

What causes shingles to activate?

After someone has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in their body for most of their life. The virus activates shingles when you’re feeling run-down or stressed out.

Some people get shingles when their immune system is weakened by an illness or treatment for cancer. Let’s take a look at these factors:

  • A weakened immune system (due to illness or medication). When we’re sick, or when we take certain medications, our bodies are more vulnerable to pathogens like shingles—and this makes it crucial that we take extra care of ourselves.
  • Stress. Stress is another factor that can activate shingles. The stress hormone cortisol can increase the severity of your symptoms and make them last longer than they normally would. If you have shingles, it’s important to avoid stress as much as possible because it could make your symptoms worse or even cause a relapse.
woman with chickenpox
  • Sunlight (or UV light). You’ve probably heard that sunlight can help you get rid of shingles faster. But it’s not as simple as that. UV light can also be a trigger for the virus that causes shingles, and it can reactivate your outbreak.

So if you’re going through treatment, try to avoid sun exposure as much as possible. Stay out of tanning beds or other artificial sources of UV light—and wear sunscreen when you’re outside in the sun.

  • If you have shingles, it is also important to avoid trauma to your skin. Trauma to your skin, such as a cut or burn, can activate the virus in your body and cause pain.

Treatment for Shingles

Shingles is a virus that causes a painful rash, typically on the skin of your torso. While most people recover from shingles without any lasting effects, it can be serious. The pain associated with shingles can last for months and even years after the rash resolves, so it’s important to treat this condition as soon as possible.

Although there is no cure for shingles, treatment can help relieve symptoms and shorten the length of time you experience them.

If you have shingles, your doctor will prescribe antiviral medications that may help shorten the severity of your symptoms and prevent complications from occurring. In some cases, a combination of antivirals may be recommended for treating shingles.

As an extra layer of defense, I would also recommend resetting your immune system regularly. The immune system is the body’s defense against everything from a cold to shingles. It’s made up of white blood cells, antibodies, and special cells called T-cells.

The immune system helps the body recognize foods and bacteria as “foreign” invaders so that it can fight them off before they do any damage.

But sometimes, the immune system can be weak or broken. That’s when our bodies are more susceptible to illness, including shingles—a painful skin rash caused by the chicken pox virus.

You might want to check out my posts about enhancing your immune system, and which booster vitamins I would recommend for this.

Shingles Recovery Stages

There are three shingles recovery stages. The first stage of recovery from shingles is the prodrome phase, which lasts for one to two weeks.

During this time, you’ll experience a feeling of burning or tingling in your skin, a fever and chills, muscle aches and pain, and blistering.

The blisters on your skin usually begin to appear at the site where you initially felt this sensation—for example, if you felt tingling in your neck, then the blisters will appear in that area.

This phase is followed by another two-week phase called the acute inflammatory phase.

In this phase, you’ll have new symptoms like redness around the blisters on your skin; swollen lymph nodes; fatigue; headaches; itching; and pain in your muscles or joints. It’s important not to scratch these blisters as they can easily become infected during this time.

pulsing headache

Finally comes the healing phase. The third stage of shingles is when you complete your recovery. Once the rash has cleared, you may still have pain and other symptoms at the site of your rash.

This is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). You may feel pain or numbness when you touch the area where your rash was or when it is touched by something else. The pain can be mild or severe.

It can feel like a burning sensation, shooting sensation, or tingling. When you’re in the third stage of shingles, you have one thing on your mind: getting better. You’re tired of the pain and itching, and you just want to get back to normal. But getting better takes time.

What Is Shingles Cream?

There are no drugs to prevent shingles from coming back once you’ve had it. You can take medication to help ease symptoms and make them go away faster, but there’s no cure for shingles.

Shingles cream is a topical treatment that contains an antiviral medicine called acyclovir, which helps reduce itching and inflammation associated with shingles. These creams can also help prevent the rash from spreading to other parts of your body.

And while you’re waiting for your body to recover from this virus, there are some things, particularly foods, that you should avoid eating if you have shingles.

Avoid These Foods if You Have Shingles

If you have shingles, it’s important to follow a diet that will help your body get better and reduce inflammation. Here are foods to avoid with shingles:

1. Dairy

Certain types of dairy may irritate the skin rash associated with shingles. Dairy products contain lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk and other foods made from milk.

Lactose intolerance is an issue for many people who have trouble digesting lactose because their bodies lack the enzymes needed to break down the sugar. Lactose intolerance can aggravate symptoms of shingles such as pain and itching.

2. Foods High in Sugar

Sugar can trigger an outbreak because it raises your blood sugar levels and causes inflammation in the body. When you have shingles, it’s important to avoid foods with high amounts of sugar because it will only worsen your condition.

3. Spicy Foods

When you have shingles, it’s important to avoid spicy foods. Spicy foods can lead to itching and burning, which can aggravate your symptoms. This is because spicy foods contain a chemical called capsaicin, which is responsible for the “heat” in hot peppers. 

spicy chili

Capsaicin can cause inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes such as those found in the mouth and throat. Spicy foods also cause an increase in your body’s temperature and when you have shingles, it is important to keep your body at a steady temperature. 

Shingles causes your immune system to be in overdrive and when you add more heat to this situation, it can cause further irritation for those with shingles.

4. Stay Away From Alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more often. When you’re urinating frequently, that’s a lot of extra fluid leaving your body—and if you have shingles, your body needs all the fluids it can get.

Alcohol dehydrates your body, which can exacerbate the pain from shingles. Substances with alcohol can also cause irritation and inflammation, which can make your symptoms worse.

5. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is another diuretic, and it will dehydrate you as well.

While dehydration isn’t as significant an issue for people with shingles as in those with other conditions like heart failure or asthma (since these conditions require more fluid than shingles), it still isn’t good for your body to be going through so much fluid loss.

Caffeine can also raise your blood pressure and heart rate, increase anxiety levels, and lead to more pain in shingles patients.

What Is the Best Diet for Shingles?

If you have shingles, you may want to reconsider your diet. A healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products can help boost your immune system and keep your body in good shape.

The best foods for shingles are those that contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants are substances that protect your body from free radicals—molecules that damage cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.

It would be great to also add supplements as part of your wellness routine.

Why is it great to add natural supplements to your wellness routine?

taking in supplement

First, it’s important to note that supplements are not drugs. They’re not going to cure you or make your symptoms go away—they’re meant to be an addition to the treatment plan your doctor has recommended for you.

Supplements can help boost your immune system and give your body exactly what it needs to stay healthy and strong.

One of the most common issues with shingles is dehydration, which can cause muscle aches, headaches, fever, and pain in the affected area.

If you’re taking supplements like Vitamin C or Echinacea (an herb), they can help hydrate your body and ward off dehydration.

Supplements that come in a complete package such as Optima are also available, so you are sure to get all the powerful ingredients that you need in one serving.

Here are other reasons why adding natural supplements to your wellness routine is beneficial:

  • You’ll reduce stress on your body by avoiding foods that trigger inflammation or pain
  • You’ll increase your energy levels by getting essential vitamins and minerals into your diet
  • You’ll help prevent the development of future health problems by supporting the body’s natural defenses

Why Is Yogurt Good for Shingles?

Yogurt is a great food to eat if you have shingles, and here’s why:

  • It’s easy to digest. Yogurt is easy on your digestive system, and when you’re dealing with the pain of shingles—which can be excruciating and make it hard to even chew or swallow—you want a food that isn’t going to make things worse.
  • It’s full of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help heal your body from the inside out. And when you’re recovering from shingles, which can leave your immune system weakened, it’s important to strengthen it with foods that contain probiotics like yogurt.
  • It’s rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium isn’t just for strong bones! It also helps fight inflammation caused by shingles, making this delicious dairy treat an “anti-inflammatory” food (and one more reason why it should be part of your diet).

Other Foods To Help With Shingles

Here are some foods that will help you feel better:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits contain vitamin C, which is essential for healing.
  • Oats contain fiber, which is good for digestion and can help reduce swelling in the body due to an infection like shingles.
  • Eat whole foods: Whole fruits and vegetables provide plenty of vitamins and minerals that will help boost your immune system. Try adding more raw foods like carrots, spinach and kale into your diet as well as whole grains like brown rice or quinoa into your meals whenever possible.
  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are packed with antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation caused by shingles.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water during this time period is important for helping flush out any toxins that may be lingering in your body due to having shingles; this will also ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Itching To Find the Answer: Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Eat Eggs When You Have Shingles?

If you’re wondering if you can eat eggs when you have shingles, the answer is yes and no. While eating eggs won’t make your shingles symptoms worse, they also don’t provide any relief from the pain or other symptoms of the illness.

cooking egg

Eggs are a great source of protein, but they don’t contain any vitamins or minerals that can help with shingles symptoms.

I would also like to err on the side of caution, limit or avoid eggs if you have shingles because it also contains arginine.

Arginine is an amino acid that helps to lower blood pressure and can be helpful in reducing pain associated with shingles. However, too much can cause side effects like headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and even kidney disease.

Eat or drink foods containing high levels of arginine such as egg occasionally, and monitor your symptoms for any changes.

Can You Drink Coffee When You Have Shingles?

Drinking coffee while you have shingles can be tricky. While some coffee-drinking people with shingles report no problems, others find that the caffeine in coffee makes their symptoms worse.

If you’re going to drink coffee while you have shingles, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Drink decaf if possible.
  • Don’t add sugar or creamer to your coffee—these will only make your symptoms worse.
  • Try to drink just one cup of coffee per day (and only when you’re feeling well), so as not to overdo it on the caffeine.

Is Watermelon Good for Shingles?

Is watermelon good for shingles? Yes. Watermelon is a great choice for anyone with shingles. It contains lots of water and antioxidants, which will help you feel hydrated and replenished.


Whether you’re dealing with a recurring bout of shingles, or your first time ever encountering this painful rash, it’s important to avoid certain foods that might slow the healing process.

Though they can be helpful in other ways, some of these foods may cause more problems than they help. By avoiding them while you deal with shingles, you’ll save yourself some hassle and discomfort.

It’s important to eat a healthy diet even if you don’t have shingles so that your body has the nutrients it needs to fight off infections like shingles or colds.

Being SUPERHUMN is not just being strong physically, but a path to holistic path that will help you reach your goals towards wellness and longevity. Keep following this page for more updates!

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