Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: prevention and management.

The recognizable appearance and the dermatomal distribution of herpes zoster lesions usually enable a clinical diagnosis to be made easily. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia occur mainly in older patients. The role of the varicella vaccine in preventing herpes zoster is uncertain, but is being studied. There is evidence to support using antiviral therapy and possibly low-dose tricyclic antidepressants to prevent postherpetic neuralgia. There is good evidence that treating herpes zoster with antiviral medication is beneficial, particularly in patients older than 50 years with severe outbreaks. The use of steroids has an unfavorable risk-benefit ratio. In patients who develop postherpetic neuralgia, there is good evidence to support treatment with gabapentin and tricyclic antidepressants. More evidence for treatment with capsaicin cream, lidocaine patch, and opioids is needed. Intrathecal methylprednisolone is an option for patients with persistent pain.
AuthorsAnne L Mounsey, Leah G Matthew, David C Slawson
JournalAmerican family physician (Am Fam Physician) Vol. 72 Issue 6 Pg. 1075-80 (Sep 15 2005) ISSN: 0002-838X [Print] United States
PMID16190505 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
Chemical References
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants (adverse effects, therapeutic use)
  • Antiviral Agents (adverse effects, therapeutic use)
  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Herpes Zoster (complications, drug therapy, prevention & control)
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia (etiology, physiopathology, prevention & control)
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

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