Postherpetic Neuralgia is a nerve pain due to damage caused by the varicella zoster virus. Typically, the neuralgia is confined to a dermatomic area of the skin and follows an outbreak of herpes zoster (commonly known as shingles) in that same dermatomic area.
The neuralgia typically begins when the herpes zoster vesicles have crusted over and begun to heal, but it can begin in the absence of herpes zoster, in which case zoster sine herpete is presumed.
Postherpetic neuralgia (post-hur-PET-ik noo-RAL-juh) is a complication of shingles, which is caused by the chickenpox (herpes zoster) virus. Postherpetic neuralgia affects nerve fibers and skin, causing burning pain that lasts long after the rash and blisters of shingles disappear. The risk of this increases with age, primarily affecting people older than 60. There’s no cure, but treatments can ease symptoms. For most people, improves over time.
The signs and symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia are generally limited to the area of your skin where the shingles outbreak first occurred — most commonly in a band around your trunk, usually on one side of your body. However it is also common in people whose shingles occurred on the face.
Postherpetic Neuralgia Signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain that lasts 3 months or longer after the shingles rash has healed. The associated pain has been described as burning, sharp and jabbing, or deep and aching.
- Sensitivity to light touch. People with the condition often can’t bear even the touch of clothing on the affected skin (allodynia).
- Itching and numbness. Less commonly, postherpetic neuralgia can produce an itchy feeling or numbness.