How is the postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) of herpes zoster (shingles) characterized?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

PHN is characterized by the following:

  • Persistent or recurring pain lasting 30 or more days after the acute infection or after all lesions have crusted (9-45% of all cases) [4]

  • Pain usually is confined to the area of original dermatomal involvement

  • The pain can be severe and incapacitating

  • Pain can persist for weeks, months, or years

  • Slow resolution of pain is especially common in the elderly [5]

  • PHN is observed more frequently after cases of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) and in instances of upper-body dermatomal involvement

  • Less common postherpetic sequelae include hyperesthesia or, more rarely, hypoesthesia or anesthesia in the area of involvement


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