Herpes zoster in older adults.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Herpes zoster (HZ) strikes millions of older adults annually worldwide and disables a substantial number of them via postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Key age-related clinical, epidemiological, and treatment features of zoster and PHN are reviewed. HZ is caused by renewed replication and spread of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in sensory ganglia and afferent peripheral nerves in the setting of age-related, disease-related, and drug-related decline in cellular immunity to VZV. VZV-induced neuronal destruction and inflammation causes the principal problems of pain, interference with activities of daily living, and reduced quality of life in elderly patients. Recently, attempts to reduce or eliminate HZ pain have been bolstered by the findings of clinical trials that antiviral agents and corticosteroids are effective treatment for HZ and that tricyclic antidepressants, topical lidocaine, gabapentin, and opiates are effective treatment for PHN. Although these advances have helped, PHN remains a difficult condition to prevent and treat in many elderly patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schmader, K

Published Date

  • May 15, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1481 - 1486

PubMed ID

  • 11317250

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1058-4838

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/320169


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States