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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Dermatology & Skin Care > Shingles Treatment

Shingles Treatment Cost


How Much Does Shingles Treatment Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: $5-$50+ Copays or 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $20-$500+

Shingles is a painful rash caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates after lying dormant in the body. It can begin with flu-like symptoms, followed by tingling on the skin, then formation of a blistery rash.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of doctor visit copays, prescription drug copays of about $5-$50 or more, plus less than $20 for over-the-counter medications. Treatment for shingles typically is covered by insurance.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, shingles treatment typically costs less than $20 for over-the-counter pain medication and antibiotic ointment plus about $30-$550 for prescription antiviral medication. The cost depends on the type of drug and whether it is generic or brand name. For example, Drugstore.com charges about $30-$40 for the 35-50, 800 mg pills of generic acyclovir typically prescribed for shingles. And it charges about $390-$560 for the same amount of the brand-name equivalent, Zovirax. Drugstore.com charges almost $240 for the 21, one-gram pills of generic valacyclovir typically prescribed for shingles. It charges almost $260 for the same amount of the brand-name equivalent, Valtrex. And Drugstore.com charges almost $230 for the 2,1 500-mg pills of famciclovir typically prescribed for shingles. The same amount of the brand-name equivalent, Famvir, costs almost $320.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the average total cost to treat shingles[1] is about $525 per patient.
Related articles: Shingles Vaccine, Cat Scratch Fever Treatment, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Shingles typically can be diagnosed based on symptoms and a visual examination.
  • The doctor typically will prescribe an antiviral medication such as acyclovir[2] (brand name Zovirax), famciclovir[3] (brand name Famvir) or valacyclovir[4] (brand name Valtrex) to reduce the duration and severity of the outbreak. If this medication is started within three days of the onset of symptoms, it reduces the chances of complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia[5] , a painful condition that affects the nerves and can last for years.
  • The doctor also might recommend an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as well as an antibiotic ointment to apply to the rash to prevent infection.
  • WebMD offers an overview of shingles treatment[6] .
Additional costs:
  • As many as 15 out of 100 people who get shingles will develop post-herpetic neuralgia. Treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia could include a topical ointment or patch, a tricyclic antidepressant or an anticonvulsant, both of which might help nerve pain. Treatment can cost up to $200 a month or more, depending on the drug, until symptoms resolve.
  • A shingles vaccine typically costs a little over $200 and can prevent shingles about 50% of the time. In those who do get shingles, it can prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.
Discounts:
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a locator[7] for clinics with sliding fee scales based on income.
  • Some drug manufacturers offer patient assistance programs. Any patient without prescription drug coverage who is not eligible for Medicare typically qualifies for Together Rx Access[8] , a discount card that offers 25%-40% off many brand-name drugs.
Shopping for shingles treatment:
  • A family doctor or dermatologist can diagnose and prescribe treatment for shingles. FindUrgentCare.com offers an urgent care center locator[9] . The American Academy of Dermatology offers a dermatologist locator[10] .
  • A patient who has shingles in or near an eye must see an ophthalmologist, because ophthalmic shingles can cause vision loss. The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers an eye doctor locator[11] .
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  archive.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn010908.htm
  2.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000533/
  3.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000951/
  4.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000959/
  5.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/postherpetic-neuralgia/DS00277
  6.  www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-topic-overview
  7.  findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC.aspx
  8.  www.togetherrxaccess.com/p/prescription-savings/about-together-rx-access/enroll.aspx
  9.  www.findurgentcare.com/
  10.  www.aad.org/find-a-derm
  11.  www.aao.org/find_eyemd.cfm
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