Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

  1. General information
    1. Acute viral infection of the nervous system
    2. The virus causes an inflammatory reaction in isolated spinal and cranial sensory ganglia and the posterior gray matter of the spinal cord
    3. Contagious to anyone who has not had varicella or who is immunosuppressed
    4. Caused by activation of latent varicella-zoster virus
  2. Medical management
    1. Analgesics
    2. Corticosteroids
    3. Acetic acid compresses
    4. Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  3. Assessment findings
    1. Neuralgic pain, malaise, itching, burning
    2. Cluster of skin vesicles along course of peripheral sensory nerves, usually unilateral and primarily on trunk, thorax, or face
  4. Nursing interventions
    1. Apply acetic acid compresses or white petrolatum to lesions.
    2. Administer medications as ordered.
      1. Analgesics for pain
      2. Systemic corticosteroids: monitor for side effects of steroid therapy (see Interventions, Care of the Client on Corticosteriod Therapy).
      3. Acyclovir (Zovivax): antivalagent reduces severity when given early in illness.