Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication that can develop after suffering from a bout of shingles. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It generally affects those who are older in age or have poor immune function. Shingles typically presents as a single, band-like painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash will generally resolve in two to four weeks and is treated with antiviral and pain medications.
However, some patients will develop chronic nerve pain described as burning, stabbing or lancinating in the area of the rash. Light touch, temperature change, movement and stress can aggravate the pain. The severity of the pain varies from person-to-person, but it can potentially be devastating. This pain can last for weeks or years and is known as postherpetic neuralgia.
Postherpetic neuralgia can arise following a bout of shingles.