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February 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Neurology and Neurological Surgery, University of Illinois, Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1951;65(2):131-145. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1951.02320020003001

THE PAIN which may follow herpes zoster may be so severe as to lead to suicide (Forget1). William Bowman2 wrote (1867): "I wish I could state anything very satisfactory as to the treatment of the after-pains, which are sometimes so severe as to make the patient weary of existence." In 1901 Mules3 reported a case in which the pains were so violent that the patient applied carriage varnish and liniment to the scalp; this caused severe dermatitis and eventual sloughing of the skin of the forehead down to the pericranium. When the man recovered, his pain had disappeared.

It is common for pain to precede the outbreak of the vesicles which appear at the terminal ramifications of the sensory nerves in herpes zoster. It is usual for the pain to disappear at this time, or to linger on during the course of the eruption for a while,