Anticonvulsant drugs, usually used for seizures, may help with the pain of damaged nerves. Gabapentin and pregabalin are the ones most often used to treat postherpetic neuralgia.
Skin patches with lidocaine (a numbing medicine) may also be prescribed to relieve some of the pain for a period of time.
Pain medications are often needed. Sometimes acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are enough. Many patients will need stronger, prescription drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone.
Drugs used to treat depression (antidepressants) may also help reduce pain, as well as help with sleep.
Electrical nerve stimulators may be used for severe, long-term cases of postherpetic neuralgia.
Some people may need help from a pain specialist.
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Wilson IF. Herpes zoster. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154:ITC31-15.
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