What is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) of herpes zoster (shingles)?

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

PHN, the chronic phase, is characterized by persistent or recurring pain lasting 30 or more days after the acute infection or after all lesions have crusted. It is the most frequent complication of herpes zoster, observed in 9-45% of all cases. [4] Most people report a deep burning or aching pain, paresthesia, dysesthesia, hyperesthesia, or electric shock–like pains. The pain can be severe and incapacitating, and may take a long time to resolve, especially in the elderly; it lasts longer than 12 months in nearly 50% of patients older than 70 years. [5]


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