It is a very painful condition where a virus infects usually just one nerve and causes a painful rash on the skin supplied by that nerve. The rash often becomes infected, and sometimes after healing, a deep pain called post herpetic neuralgia, persists. The virus is closely related to the chickenpox virus, and it is best for older people, especially if frail or with reduced immunity, to avoid children with chickenpox.

• It is essential to see your doctor as soon as possible. Antiviral treatment can make a huge reduction in suffering. It is most beneficial if started within 72 hours of the onset of the pain, which can often precede the rash.
• Pain relief and antibiotics for secondary infections.
• Drugs which may help reduce the pain of post herpetic neuralgia include tricyclic antidepressants, tegretol, lignocaine patch, and sometimes even morphine-like drugs may be required if the pain is very severe.

See your doctor as fast as you can to start antiviral therapy. If it is a weekend, go to the emergency doctor because this is an emergency.

Nutritional supplements

• Vitamin C in very high doses can also damage viruses, and as soon as the diagnosis is made start 2-4 grams of vitamin C, 3 times a day (or until diarrhea develops). If there is a facility near you which can give it, ask for some intravenous vitamin C, 30-40 grams twice weekly for 2 weeks.
• Good nutrition: multivitamin – multimineral supplements and omega 3 fish oils may aid healing and could possibly reduce the risk of post herpetic neuralgia.

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