Postherpetic Neuralgia: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 6/24/2021

Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful complication of shingles. Shingles is an outbreak of the herpes zoster virus, also known as varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

Signs and symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia include severe pain that lasts 3 months or longer after the shingles rash has healed. The pain has been described as burning, sharp and jabbing, or deep and aching. Associated symptoms can include

Cause of postherpetic neuralgia

Damage to nerve fibers from the herpes zoster virus causes postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia usually begins after shingles has cleared, but it can also occur in cases when no shingles blisters were observed. Older people and people who have had shingles are at greatest risk for developing the condition.

Other postherpetic neuralgia symptoms and signs

  • Itching
  • Numbness
  • Severe Pain That Lasts 3 Months After the Shingles Rash Healed
  • Skin Sensitivity to Light Touch

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References
Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.