Post-herpetic neuralgia is a painful sensation caused by an outbreak of shingles, which is caused by the chicken pox virus, that can occur even after all visible symptoms of shingles are gone. 

Overview and Symptoms

Patients who have been diagnosed with shingles, or who are at risk for developing shingles, may experience post-herpetic neuralgia. Symptoms typically occur in the location where the rash and blisters of shingles have occurred. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain - often described as burning, sharp, or deep and aching
  • Sensitivity to light touch
  • Numbness and/or tingling
  • Itching

Treatment at BIDMC

Pain can be the first sign of shingles, prior to a rash. You should see your doctor at the first sign of shingles because taking a medication against the chicken pox virus soon after the start of symptoms can decrease the risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Other medications to help alleviate pain may also be prescribed.  

The best way to prevent post-herpetic neuralgia is by preventing shingles altogether. Your doctor may recommend vaccination for the varicella virus, which causes both chickenpox and shingles.

Call your doctor if you recognize any of the symptoms of shingles, have had chickenpox in the past, and/or have not received chickenpox or shingles vaccinations. 

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