Scientists have not found a treatment that prevents all patients with shingles from developing PHN. However, there are several treatments that some think migh reduce the chances of developing PHN but the evidence as of this date is suspect and difficult to prove given the different PHN responses by patient to an outbreak of shingles.
People who continue to feel pain long after the rash and blisters heal are experiencing a pain called postherpetic neuralgia which basically is damage to their nerve fibers caused by a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus. Nerve fibers essentially send messages from the skin to the brain. Damaged Nerve fibers due to shingles are not able to send messages to the spinal cord as they normally do and it is believed that the body may perceive these “mixed messages” as pain signals.
Age and PHN are related. Older people are more susceptible to PHN. PHN usually does not develop in people under age 50. Over 40% of patients with shingles age 60 or older develop PHN. After the shingles rash has healed, 75% of people over age 70 have pain at 1 month, and 50% still have pain after 1 year.
During an outbreak of shingles, other risk factors for the development of PHN
>Greater pain severity
>Greater rash severity
>Sensory impairment (problems with feeling touch) in the affected skin
>Painful period before the shingles rash appears
>The trigeminal nerve (a nerve in the face) is affected
Treatments for postherpetic neuralgia depends on the type of phn pain you experience. Generally for~post herpetic neuralgia these include:
> Drugs that inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin
> Certain anticonvulsants
> Injected steroids
> Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
> Spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulation.
> Lidocaine skin patches
There are even some alternate remedies that have been tried by those suffering from PHN such as hypnosis, acupuncture, diluted apple cider vinegar, colustrum and vitamin B5.
Two highly effective alternative medicine treatments for PHN pain are Menastil and EZ Pain Relief. Both are non-narcotic, non-addictive topical solutions that effectively penetrate the skin. Their active ingredients reach the inflamed area to cause the nerve ends to relax and allow the blood and oxygen to flow back into the painful area to effectively cutoff the pain signal to the spinal cord and therefore to the brain. You still have the PHN condition, since these products are not cures, but you will feel substantially less pain with the use of either of these products.
Although some people will live with postherpetic neuralgia the rest of their lives, most people can expect the condition to gradually disappear during the first three months. For about 10 percent to 20 percent of people with postherpetic neuralgia, the pain may persist for a year or more.