Postherpetic Neuralgia


Postherpetic neuralgia, a common aftermath of shingles, presents as a lingering burning sensation affecting the nerves and skin. The pain from shingles can persist long after the rash and blisters have healed. The risk of encountering this condition escalates with age, especially in those aged 60 and above. Although there is no definitive cure, there are treatments aimed at mitigating the symptoms. Over time, many people experience a natural improvement in their condition.


Typically, the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia are confined to the region of skin where the initial shingles outbreak occurred, often appearing as a band around the body’s trunk, predominantly on one side. These symptoms may encompass:

  • Hypersensitivity to light touch, rendering individuals with postherpetic neuralgia intolerant to even the gentlest contact of clothing on the affected skin.
  • Persistent pain persisting for three months or more following the resolution of the shingles rash. The pain may manifest as burning, sharp, jabbing sensations, or deep, aching discomfort.
  • In somecases, postherpetic neuralgia may induce sensations of itchiness or numbness.

Seek medical attention promptly upon observing the initial symptoms of shingles. Pain may begin before the rash becomes apparent. Commencing antiviral medications within 72 hours of the shingles rash onset can reduce the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia.


Shingles, caused by the chickenpox virus, emerges when the virus, which remains dormant in your body after a bout of chickenpox, reactivates later in life. The chance of this virus becoming active again grows as people age or if their immune system weakens, for instance, due to chemotherapy treatments.

When shingles flares up, it can damage nerve fibers, which may lead to a condition called postherpetic neuralgia. This condition arises due to disruptions in the typical communication pathway between the skin and the brain, resulting in confused and intensified messages. Consequently, individuals may experience prolonged pain lasting for months or even years.

Risk factors

Factors that can elevate the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia in individuals with shingles include:

  • Age: Being over 60 years old.
  • Severity of shingles: Experiencing a severe rash and debilitating pain that hindered daily activities.
  • Location of shingles outbreak: Affected areas on the face or torso.
  • Delayed treatment: Failing to initiate antiviral medication within 72 hours of rash onset.
  • Coexisting illnesses: Having a chronic condition like diabetes.
  • Lack of shingles vaccination: Not having received the shingles vaccine.