Shingles generally has few long-term symptoms. In fact, once shingles has cleared up, you generally do not have to worry about suffering from anything else. However, a very small number of those who suffer from shingles may find themselves dealing with postherpetic neuralgia, a very painful condition that may last for quite some time. Typically, older adults are more likely to develop this condition.
Postherpetic neuralgia affects your nerve fibers and your skin, and it may last for quite some time. The cause of the condition is the same as the cause of shouting and chickenpox: the varicella zoster virus. When the virus reactivates, instead of causing a shingles outbreak, it causes burning, aching, and shooting pains near the area where the shingles breakout occurred. The pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia does not occur all the time in fact, it may come and go without any warning, and it can be further aggravated by movement or when clothing comes in contact with the area.
What factors can cause a person to develop postherpetic neuralgia? As mentioned above, the older a person is, the more likely they are to develop the condition after a shingle outbreak. Those who have a history of prodromal pain or of ophthalmic zoster are at higher risk. Anyone dealing with a compromised or weakened immune system may also be more at risk for developing postherpetic neuralgia.
If you find yourself suffering from postherpetic neuralgia, you'll want to know what treatments are available. Unfortunately, the condition is quite difficult to treat. There are several different things that may work, including anticonvulsants, topical creams, antidepressants, and steroids. Not all treatments will work for everyone, and some do serious risks and side effects. If you're suffering from posthepetic neuralgia, discuss these treatment options with your doctor.