Pain and Itch Highly Prevalent in Patients With HZ

HealthDay News — Pain and itch are prevalent in patients with herpes zoster (HZ), and pain is associated with quality of life and increased costs, according to a study published in Pain Practice.

Albert J.M. van Wijck, MD, PhD, and Yannick R. Aerssens, MD, from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, measured the presence and severity of pain and itch and impact on quality of life among 661 patients (over age 50 years) with HZ. Patient data were obtained from a web-based questionnaire.

The researchers found that 94% of patients reported any pain, and 74.3% and 26% reported significant and severe pain, respectively. A total of 18.8% of patients suffered from postherpetic neuralgia after 3 months. At inclusion, 70.8%, 39.2%, and 7.3% of patients had any itch, significant itch, and severe itch, respectively.

 Pain occurrence increased costs and affected quality of life, reducing Euroqol-5D scores by an average of 18%; itch had little impact on quality of life.

“Pain and itch are highly prevalent months after HZ,” the authors write. “Pain caused by HZ has a large impact on quality of life, burden of illness, impact on daily life, and health care costs for these patients. The impact of itch on quality of life is relatively small.”

The study was funded by an unrestricted grant from Sanofi Pasteur.

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Van Wijck AJ, Aerssens YR. Pain, itch, quality of life, and costs after herpes zoster. Pain Pract. 2016 Sep 9. doi: 10.1111/papr.12518 [Epub ahead of print]