Management of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia.
Patients with herpes zoster experience severe pain and potential lasting complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, ophthalmic disease/damage, and, rarely, skin complications (eg, infection of rash area). Treatment for acute zoster aims to accelerate healing, control pain, and, when possible, reduce the risk of complications. Early intervention with antivirals can accelerate rash healing, reduce rash severity, and reduce the risk of some complications. The addition of corticosteroids to antiviral medication may further alleviate short-term zoster pain, but is associated with an increased risk of serious adverse effects, especially among older adults. If a patient does develop postherpetic neuralgia, gabapentin, pregabalin, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, lidocaine patch 5%, and capsaicin may all be considered as palliative treatments. For individuals with treatment-refractory postherpetic neuralgia, nonpharmacologic approaches may be considered and a pain-management specialist should be consulted. There is a need for more effective agents to treat herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia.