Confirming a Herpes Zoster Infection and Relieving Symptoms
Making a Herpes Zoster DiagnosisBefore making a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of this condition.
A typical case of herpes zoster is easy to diagnose. The doctor might suspect it if:
- The rash is on only one side of the body
- The rash erupts along one of the many nerve paths, called dermatomes, that stem from the spine.
The doctor usually confirms a diagnosis of herpes zoster if the person also:
- Reports a sharp, burning pain
- Has had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
- Has blisters that look like chickenpox
- Is elderly.
(Click Diagnosing Herpes Zoster for more information.)
TreatmentThe treatment your healthcare provider recommends will depend on several factors, including the severity of symptoms, when the symptoms started, and whether complications occur.
Treatment options may include:
- Antiviral medicines and pain relievers
- Other medicines to treat complications such as postherpetic neuralgia
- Temporary changes in your lifestyle.
(Click Treatment for Herpes Zoster to learn more about specific treatment for this condition, including how antivirals can help if given early enough.)
Is There a Cure?Just as there is no cure for chickenpox, there is no cure for herpes zoster. There are, however, herpes zoster medicines (known as antivirals) that can shorten the length and severity of the condition. There is also a vaccine that can prevent it in the future.
(Click Herpes Zoster Cure for more information about antivirals and the vaccine.)