Postherpetic Neuralgia, which is also known simply as PHN is basically a disease of the skin and so the signs and symptoms are also naturally on the skin itself. But this does not mean that the disease is just skin deep. It goes deep down and affects the nerves of the body itself. The pain (which is the first symptom) actually starts when the virus that causes it begins to travel through the nerves. And when this happens the nerve fibers become damaged and can not transmit electrical signals to the brain. Postherpetic Neuralgia is a complication of the shingles disease and so, the first signs and symptoms are always close to the shingles disease. But whenever the pain starts to become acute the disease takes a turn towards Postherpetic Neuralgia and it has to be understood that it might be Postherpetic Neuralgia and not shingles anymore.
The most common signs and symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia are associated with pain. But normally the pain has to be persistent for a period of 3 months or more for the physician to term it as Postherpetic Neuralgia. Further there should be a biting, stabbing, throbbing or burning feeling. However the pain and the inconvenience do vary from one person to another – while it can be severe for one, it can also be a bit milder for another.
The pain travels through the nerves and reaches the skin where rashes and blisters start to erupt. This is the second symptom. These blisters can appear almost anywhere in the body and are also very sensitive to any touch and pressing. If these blisters are not in the exposed skin areas and are covered by cloth, even the simple act of cloth rubbing over the blisters can also lead to severe pain – they are so sensitive. The pain may also increase with any change in temperature.
However exactly contrary to this, another thing can happen. Postherpetic Neuralgia can make the affected skin area numb as well. When this happens, instead of being extra sensitive, the rashes can not be even felt or there can be very little sensation as well.
Another symptom of Postherpetic Neuralgia involves itchiness in the affected parts of the skin. But mind it, itching the rashes can only make the situation worse. The disease can also come with headache.
It has been observed that the herpes zoster virus that causes the disease affects mostly people who are 50 years and above in age. This is though the same chicken pox virus that stays dormant for years before becoming active again. Researchers are saying that the herpes zoster virus actually reactivates when there are symptoms of another disease in the body, and it is these symptoms that actually trigger off Postherpetic Neuralgia.
So there is a relationship between the symptoms of other diseases and the symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia. Particularly in people who are seniors or are in the middle age.