Shingles Vaccine Side Effects – Postherpetic Neuralgia

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The pain caused by shingles can be severe, but for most people, the condition goes away in a few weeks. However, for some people, the pain continues. This is called postherpetic neuralgia, (PHN) which is a type of neuropathic pain that could last for months or years even if the shingles virus is no longer active.

Postherpetic neuralgia normally occurs in the same area as where the shingles appeared. The type of pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia can be constant or intermittent, and it can take on any number of qualities as the shingle pain.

The pain of PHN can interfere with your daily activities, exercise, sleep, and sexual desire. Depression and irritability can follow.

Why the pain of PHN continues has researchers baffled, as it’s not due to an ongoing infection but is believed to be due to residual damage or inflammation in the nerves after the shingles are gone.



shingles vaccine side effects
If you or a loved one has contracted postherpetic-neuralgia due to being given the shingles vaccine Zostavax, call Walton Telken today.

Shingles typically cause a painful, blistering rash. Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication that only occurs in people who already have had shingles. Common signs and symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia include:

  • Severe pain that continues for more than one to three months in the same place that the shingles occurred, even after the rash goes away
  • Burning sensation on the skin, even from the slightest pressure
  • Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes



The risk for postherpetic neuralgia increases with age. The results of one study showed that age was a big factor.

Among people under 60 years old who had shingles, less than one in 50 developed postherpetic neuralgia. Additionally, in people aged 60-69, about 7% of shingle patients developed postherpetic neuralgia. Also, in people aged 70 and over, almost 20% developed postherpetic neuralgia after having shingles.

Race seems to be a factor as well. For reasons still unknown to researchers, white Americans get shingles and postherpetic neuralgia at more than twice the rate of African-Americans in their age group.

Exposure to someone with chickenpox or shingles doesn’t increase your risk. Experts believe that being slightly exposed to chickenpox or shingles may boost your immune system defenses making you less likely to develop shingles or postherpetic neuralgia.



Once you have postherpetic neuralgia, antiviral drugs can’t treat the pain because an infection isn’t the problem. Instead, treatment turns to try to soothe and quiet the nerves that are misfiring and creating the pain.

Many people use herbal oils and creams, such as extracts from geranium, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, and bergamot, all of which should be available at your local drugstore.

A drug called Qutenza contains “pure, concentrated, synthetic capsaicin”. This drug can be used every three months and can be applied by your doctor via a patch or patches placed on your skin for about an hour. For other treatments consult your physician.



Zostavax was introduced to the market in 2006. Until 2017, it was the only shingles vaccine approved by the FDA.

One of the serious side effects of the shingles vaccine Zostavax is postherpetic neuralgia after a shingles outbreak. Additional side effects caused by Zostavax: acute retinal necrosis, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, congestive heart failure, Bell’s Palsy, and death.



There’s been a growing number of lawsuits filed across the country related to severe injuries from the shingles vaccine, Zostavax. Each of these lawsuits is raising similar allegations that Merck, the manufacturer of Zostavax, used a live strain of the varicella zoster virus that was not weakened sufficiently to prevent reactivation of the virus.  This means that instead of the body developing the proper immune response, the live virus combined with the old virus.

If you or a loved one has contracted Bell’s Palsy and/or Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome due to being given the shingles vaccine Zostavax, you should contact an experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable attorney such as Walton Telken to have your case evaluated.

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