Effect of oral acyclovir on pain resolution in herpes zoster: A reanalysis

J. Clark Huff, J. L. Drucker, A. Clemmer, O. L. Laskin, J. D. Connor, Y. J. Bryson, H. H. Balfour

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The most frequent complication of herpes zoster is postherpetic neuralgia, usually defined as chronic pain in the area of the exanthem that persists for at least a month after the skin lesions have healed. Several clinical studies of acyclovir showed a reduction in severity and duration of acute pain, but provided no definitive data for chronic pain. In order to determine if acyclovir therapy could reduce chronic pain, we reanalyzed data from the largest U.S. placebo‐controlled treatment trial of 187 immunocompetent persons with herpes zoster. By considering pain as a continuum, we found that the median duration of pain in acyclovir recipients was 20 days vs. 62 days for their placebo counterparts (P = 0.02). Thus, acyclovir has been shown to reduce chronic zoster‐associated pain. We also noted that the absence of pain at the onset of cutaneous herpes zoster did not preclude its later development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-96
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number1 S
StatePublished - 1993


  • acute herpes zoster
  • cessation of pain
  • oral acyclovir therapy
  • postherpetic neuralgia

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