After the rash and blisters of shingles, the skin around the outbreak area may continue to be painful. When this pain continues a patient may be suffering from a condition known as Postherpetic neuralgia. This condition is a complication of shingles, which is caused by the chickenpox (herpes zoster) virus.
Ninety percent of shingle mediated pain resolves within 2-4 weeks. Pain still present beyond this time frame, known as Postherpetic neuralgia, typically occurs 4 weeks after the onset of shingles. This condition affects the sensory nerves, fiber, and skin. The burning pain associated with Postherpetic neuralgia can be severe enough to interfere with sleep, work, activities of daily living, and appetite.
Currently, there is no cure for Postherpetic neuralgia, but there are treatment options to ease symptoms.Depending on the severity of the pain, treatment can vary. Dr. Lipson feels strongly that early intervention is critical. Patients should seek medical attention within 4-6 weeks after the onset of their shingle lesions. The risks of not seeking medical attention during this critical time would result in the development of a chronic pain state.
The risk of Postherpetic neuralgia increases with age, primarily affecting people over age 60.
Dr. Ana Lipson
Lipson Pain Institute
210 1st Street South
Winter Haven, Florida 33880