Complications of Herpes Zoster

Most of the cases of herpes zoster are mild and do not lead to any serious complications. But many individuals may develop complications of herpes zoster, which may range from mild complications such as minor skin infections to serious complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia. Several factors contribute to the development of complications of herpes zoster, such as age (higher incidence of complication among older individuals), immune status (higher incidence of complication among immunocompromized individuals than normal people) etc.

Among immunocompromized individual’s herpes zoster skin lesions generally last for more than a week and may take more than 3 weeks to scab completely. In individuals with Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (both have compromised immunity) the risk of complications due to herpes zoster is as high as 40%. Among these individuals pneumonitis, meningoencephalitis, hepatitis, and other serious complications are much common than normal individuals.

The most serious complication of herpes zoster is post herpetic neuralgia and pain due to acute neuritis for normal as well as immunocompromized individuals. These complications are less among younger individuals, but among individuals aged over 50 years the risk of post herpetic neuralgia and pain due to acute neuritis 50%.

Herpes lesions in or around eyes (herpes zoster ophthalmicus) may cause infection of the eyes, which is very painful and may lead to loss of vision. Herpes skin lesions, if left untreated or if not appropriately treated may lead to superinfection by bacteria and complicate the skin lesions.

Other less common complications of herpes zoster are encephalitis, facial paralysis, meningitis, pneumonitis, meningoencephalitis, hepatitis etc.

Rare complications (mainly CNS or central nervous system complication) of herpes zoster are transverse myelitis, granulomatous angiitis with contralateral (opposite side to the skin lesion) hemiplegia etc.

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1 Comment

  • nikon coolpix
    August 4, 2011 - 10:19 pm

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