Work of the Clinic Dermatologique University of Geneva
(Director: Professor Dr. Ch. Du Bois).

Treatment of Shingles With Vitamin C.


Seven years ago, based on my then-very recent discovery of the inactivating action of vitamin C on diphtherial toxins and on the poliomyelitis virus, I applied this vitamin to the treatment of shingles.

The first very favorable results of this therapy were published in the Annals of Dermatology and Syphiligraphy in September 1938. They were confirmed, during the last years, in forty cases, of which fourteen were treated in the University Dermatology Polyclinic of Geneva.

I will limit myself here to summarizing the observations of the patients of the Dermatological Clinic. They give a good idea of the effects of vitamin C on the evolution of shingles.

I must express my deepest gratitude for the benevolent interest that my patron, Mr. Professor Du Bois, showed for this research when first reported.


1. Georges F., 50 years: Shingles situated on the right side of the chest, the right arm, the right shoulder, the right side of the back, the cheek, the earlobe and around the temple. The skin eruption dates back one week. The pains are severe and disturb the patient’s sleep.

25 July 1938: 30 cg. of intravenous ascorbic acid (we used Roche’s Redoxon). 26 July 1938: 30 cg. of ascorbic acid per os. 27 July 1938: the pain has disappeared, redness has strongly diminished, most of the [shingle] elements are dry. Second intravenous injection, 30 cg. 29 July 1938: Third injection, 30 cg. 1 August: Cure.

2. Roger G., 17 years: Shingles of the right hip forming a wide band that extends from the vertebral column to the abdomen. Moderate pain, intense itching. Beginning of the eruption on 2 September.

Three intravenous injections of ascorbic acid of 10 cg., on 8, 10 and 13 of September. Cure completed, September 15.

3. Charles C., 27 years: Shingles of the right side of the back, right flank, buttock and right thighs. Gross, painful right inguinal adenopathy. The eruption, equally very painful, dates back five days.

16 November 1937: 20 cg. of intravenous ascorbic acid, 17 November 1937: pains lessen; 20 cg. 18 November 1937; 20 cg. 24 November 1937: most of the plaques have disappeared; others are crusty in patches. The patient no longer suffers.

4. P., Jacques, 90 years: Shingles occupying the right side of the sacrum, the right buttock, upper two-thirds of the thigh, above the region of the hypogastrum.

Subcutaneous injections of 10 cg. of ascorbic acid on 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 19 October. The day of the third injection the pain and the redness have noticeably diminished. The cure is complete 26 October.

5. Edith Sch., 29 years: Shingles dating back three days on the right side of the back, the shoulder and the right arm. The eruption was preceded by pain for two days.

Intravenous injections daily of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid (one ampoule of Redoxon Forte). Disappearance of pain after the fourth injection. Cure complete on the seventh [day].

6. Jean F., 61 years: Thoracic shingles. Several plaques extending from vertebral column to the anterior face of the thorax. The eruption, which is painful, dates back five days; the contents of the blisters are turbid.

The patient receives intravenous injections of 30 cg. of ascorbic acid on 22 and 23 July 1938, then an injection every second day. The day following the first injection, the erythema is already much less is marked, and many blisters are dry. The pain disappears on the fifth injection; the cure is complete on the ninth one.

7. Josephine C., 71 years: Shingles of the entire left hemithorax dating back to 16 December 1941, for which the patient received, before presenting herself to the Dermatology Polyclinic, 4 injections of Benerva that did not bring subjective or objective improvement.

On 20 December 1941 to 17 January 1942 the patient received at the Dermatology Polyclinic, where she presented herself in a sporadic manner, 10 injections intravenous of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid. The pain is less intense as early as the first injection, and on 27 December, the day of the third, the patient does not experience more than slight pain. The cure is complete the day of the tenth injection.

8. Julie R., 53 years: Shingles of the left lateral face of the neck, left shoulder, armpit and left scapular region. Strong pain and intense burning sensation prevent sleep.

Daily intravenous injections of 10 cg. of ascorbic acid. The pain is less sharp the day following the first injection, much less sharp after the third one. After the seventh one [the pain] disappeared. The cure is complete in all considerations nine days after the beginning of treatment (8 injections).

9. Marie H., 38 years: Shingles of the external face of the left arm and left side of the chest, dating back five days. The eruption was preceded by sharp pain in the left hemithorax over about ten days. Three grams of Cibazol a day for three days did not lessen the pain or the appearance of new lesions on the back and on the arm.

On 26 and 27 June 1943, intravenous injections of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid (one ampoule of Redoxon Forte). 28 June, day of the third injection, the pains are much less strong and the patient spends a good night, the first since the beginning of the disease. By the fifth injection all the lesions are dry; by the ninth one the pain has disappeared.

10. René Sch., 33 years: Shingles situated on the left superior eyelid, on the left side of the forehead and scalp. The eruption dates back 4 days. blisters, crusts, several necrotic points. Pain.

Intravenous injections of ascorbic acid: 10 cg., 24 Sept.; 20, 25 September; 30, 27 September; 40, 29 September. The day of the fourth injection the pain has completely disappeared. The patient is reexamined in polyclinic six weeks later for something else. He says that he interrupted his treatment because he did not suffer anymore.

11. Marie B., 16 years: Shingles on the whole left side of the face, oedema and redness of the eyelids, chemosis, excessive pains. The eruption dates back four days.

Daily intravenous injections of ascorbic acid: 10 cg. the first day, 20 cg. the two following days, then 30 cg. Marked decrease of oedema and pain after the fourth injection, complete disappearance of the pain and cure after the twelfth.

12. K., Franz, 65 years: necrotic shingles of the left superior half of the face and left side of scalp, dating back 5 days.

Daily injections of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid associated with auto-hemotherapy. Decrease of the oedema of the eyelids after the second injection, great improvement in all aspects after the fifth one, disappearance of pain after the sixth one. Cure complete at the twelfth injection.

13. Jules C., 59 years: Shingles of the whole side right of the face and neck, dating back 8 days. The pains are very sharp, particularly on the forehead, where one notes several necrotic elements.

Daily injections of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid. The swelling of the eyelids diminishes as early as the second injection. The pain strongly lessens as early as the fourth one. After the sixth injection the eruption is completely dry, with the exception of two blisters on the scalp; the patient hardly suffers any more. After the tenth injection the skin is completely healed, but the patient complains again of light pain, especially at night, in the region of the right ear. This pain yields to an eleventh ascorbic acid injection, to which an ampoule of Benerva Forte was added.

14. Louis Ch., 78 years: Shingles of the anterior portion of the right hemicranium, right half of the forehead, and right superior eyelid. The eruption dates back five days to the moment of the hospitalization.

Daily injections of 50 cg. of ascorbic acid. The pains lessen as early as the first injection, disappear at the tenth one. The cure of the skin is complete at the twelfth injection.

Nevertheless, a week later, the patient complains about “picotements” [prickling, tingling] at the level of the forehead. This prickling yields to three injections intravenous of Benerva Forte made in conjunction with three of histamine loco dolenti [at the site of the pain].

This combination of the intravenous injections of vitamin B1 and intradermal injections of histamine loco dolenti, done simultaneously, allowed me to obtain the disappearance of sometimes very long-standing pain post-shingles. With an old patient this pain persisted over two years. It disappeared at the end of 22 injections.


The treatment of shingles by vitamin C gave me remarkably consistent results in the forty cases where I employed it.

The observations reported in this report indicate that the dermatitis is quickly arrested under the influence of the vitamin, and that the pain, as tenacious even as the pain of the ophthalmic shingles, declines as early as the first injections and disappears after a relatively short time. One of the principal advantages of this therapy is to avoid the persistence of pain after resolution of the skin eruption.

In the cases where the pain is slow to disappear, the addition of an ampoule of vitamin B1 to the last ascorbic acid injections hastens the cure.

Better results are obtained by means of daily intravenous injections instituted early on.

The treatment necessitates three to twelve injections.

Summary. (German)

On the basis of 14 briefly reported cases, the excellent therapeutic influence of immediately using daily intravenous injections of 10—50 cg ascorbic acid is emphasized. The eruption receded rapidly, and in particular the occurrence of extremely tormenting pain that often ensues was to a large extent prevented. 3—12 injections were required.

Summary. (English)

On the basis of 14 short case-reports, the excellent therapeutic action of immediate daily intravenous injections of 10—50 cg of ascorbic acid is stressed. The eruption rapidly subsides and the very distressing pains which frequently follow the eruption are largely avoided. Three to twelve injections are necessary.

From Dermatologica, September/October 1943, Volume 88, Number 3/4, pp. 197-201.

Translators/Editors notes:

  1. The term “forte” was associated with trademarked brand names of the era. The La Roche Company was known at the time to use the trademark Redox (or Redoxon) Forte, and Benerva Forte for ascorbate and thiamin (B1) products, respectively.
  2. The occasional unclear reference, grammatical inconsistency or jargon term has added clarifications enclosed in [brackets] to aid comprehension.

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