Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is pain, headaches, and nerve problems that occur as a complication of shingles (herpes zoster). Postherpetic neuralgia lasts for at least 30 days and can continue for months to years.

People who develop shingles after age 50 and who have severe pain and rash during shingles have the greatest risk for having postherpetic neuralgia. It most commonly occurs on the forehead or chest. The pain linked with postherpetic neuralgia may make it difficult to eat, sleep, and do daily activities. It may also increase the risk for depression.

Early treatment of shingles with antiviral medicines may prevent postherpetic neuralgia. If postherpetic neuralgia does occur, certain over-the-counter and prescription medicines can relieve pain.

Last Revised: December 18, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology

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