Postherpetic Neuralgia Symptoms

Burning Pain, Numbness, and Other PHN Symptoms

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) symptoms can show up after a bout with shingles (also known as herpes zoster virus). Rest assured: Not everyone who gets shingles will develop PHN, which is a painful condition that affects your nerve fibers and skin.1

Shingles usually clears up within a few weeks, but if you have symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia, it's important to get treated right away for PHN.

Below are symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia:

  • Pain: The intense pain associated with PHN can be burning, stinging, sharp, shooting, or jabbing. You could also have deep, throbbing, and aching pain. In some people, the pain can be so severe that it interferes with everyday activities, such as putting on clothes or sleeping.
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch: Unusual sensitivity to touch is called allodynia. For example, for some people with PHN, it hurts to even wear loose-fitted clothing—when clothing touches the affected skin, it can be very painful. Some people's skin is also extremely sensitive to temperature changes or even a light breeze.
  • Numbness, tingling, and/or itching: Some people with PHN have an itchy feeling or numbness and tingling, although these symptoms are not as common as pain or sensitivity to touch.
  • Headaches: You may experience headaches if you've had shingles that have affected your head or face.
  • Weakness and/or paralysis: Although it's rare, if PHN affects nerves that are involved with controlling your muscles, you may also experience muscle weakness and/or paralysis.

In addition to these symptoms, some people with postherpetic neuralgia may also experience rash, fever, and general tiredness.2

PHN symptoms typically show up in the area of skin that was affected by shingles. It's common to experience symptoms around your torso, and often times, symptoms are only present on one side of your body.

If you notice any of the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia after you have shingles, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Updated on: 10/25/12