A chronic zoster infection occurs when the pain and other symptoms of shingles persist for longer than three months. This can happen due to nerve damage or a weakened immune system. Treatments can include pain medication, antidepressants, and physical therapy. It is important to see a doctor if symptoms of shingles persist longer than expected to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Chronic zoster, also known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), is a complication of shingles, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) – the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body and can reactivate later in life causing shingles.
In most cases, shingles clears up within a few weeks, but in some cases, the pain and other symptoms can persist for months or even years. This is known as chronic zoster. The risk of developing PHN increases with age, particularly in people over the age of 60. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, are also at a higher risk of developing PHN.
Symptoms of chronic zoster can include severe and persistent pain, itching, burning, and numbness in the affected area. The pain can be debilitating and can interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Other symptoms can include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.
Treatment for chronic zoster can include medications such as painkillers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. In some cases, nerve blocks or spinal cord stimulation may also be used. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling may also be helpful in managing the symptoms of chronic zoster.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have shingles or if you have symptoms of chronic zoster. Early treatment can help to reduce the risk of developing PHN and can also help to manage the symptoms more effectively.