Autumn is the season of alternating cold and hot weather, so herpes zoster is prone to occur and patients often feel unbearable pain. Medical experts suggest that early treatment after the onset of shingles can effectively relieve pain.
Schematic diagram of the full-course management of herpes zoster patients by a multidisciplinary team (photo courtesy of Peking Union Medical College Hospital)
Li Li, chief physician of the Department of Dermatology at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said that herpes zoster is a common skin disease caused by the chickenpox-zoster virus. After the virus first infects the human body, it lurks in the dorsal root ganglia or cranial ganglia of the spinal cord. When the body’s resistance is reduced, it reactivates and causes herpes zoster. During the onset, in addition to skin damage, neuralgia is often associated, and a few patients may experience sensory abnormalities such as itching, burning or tingling.
“Herpes zoster tends to occur in the elderly, but young people can also get sick when their immunity is low.” Li Li said that the rash can occur anywhere on the body, manifesting as clusters of blisters or red papules, unilateral, band-like, Distribution, patients should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after onset of the disease and take antiviral drugs, neurotrophic drugs, analgesic treatment and other means for treatment.
“The earlier analgesic drugs are used under the guidance of a doctor, the more pain they can reduce during the onset of herpes zoster, and it will also help reduce the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia.” said Tang Shuai, chief physician of the Department of Anesthesiology at Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
After herpes zoster heals, some patients still feel paroxysmal pain in the affected area. Tang Shuai introduced that post-herpetic neuralgia is the most important complication of herpes zoster. About 1/3 of patients will develop neuralgia, and the proportion can be as high as 2/3 in elderly patients; among patients with post-herpetic neuralgia, 30% to 50% of cases have pain that lasts for more than 1 year, seriously affecting the quality of life.
“If the pain continues for up to a month after herpes heals, it means it has developed into chronic pain.” Tang Shuai said that at this time, the difficulty of treatment greatly increases, the cure rate and relief rate are significantly reduced, and repeated surgeries or long-term medication are often required. It can be relieved, so be sure to seize the best treatment period of “within one month”.
“Recent overwork and high mental stress are common triggers of herpes zoster.” Tang Shuai said that in addition to timely medical treatment, patients with herpes zoster should also try to maintain a physical and mental state of “well-rested, well-nourished, and in a good mood”; when necessary, You can have a comprehensive physical examination to check for underlying diseases that may weaken your immunity; in addition, the herpes zoster vaccine is an effective way to prevent herpes zoster.