Specific Problems Seen With Shingles

Shingles Complications: Postherpetic Neuralgia

Probaby the most common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a condition where the pain from shingles persists for months, sometimes years, after the shingles rash has healed. Shingles pain that occurs with the initial shingles outbreak usually responds to treatment and is limited in duration (three to five weeks). In contrast, the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia last longer, are difficult to treat, and can be incapacitating.
In many individuals, the skin is so sensitive that clothing or even a passing breeze cannot be tolerated on the affected area. The pain is described by PHN sufferers as agonizing, excruciating, and burning. The pain can result in an inability to perform daily tasks of living. This can lead to loss of independence and, ultimately, depression and isolation.
For unknown reasons, this debilitating pain is more common in older people.

Shingles Complications: Sacral Zoster

When the shingles virus affects the nerves that control bladder function, it may cause sacral zoster. Symptoms of sacral zoster can include being unable to urinate, feeling the urge to urinate but not being able to, or having a dribbling urinary stream.

Other Shingles Complications

There are a number of other possible complications that can occur with shingles. Some of these may include:
  • Spreading of the shingles virus. For example, up to 50 percent of people with Hodgkin's disease who develop shingles can have the shingles virus spread to the lungs or brain. Loss of life occurs in up to 25 percent of these patients.
  • Infection.
  • Scarring.
  • Muscle weakness.
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Shingles Disease

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