JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Herpes zoster in eastern Saudi Arabia: clinical presentation and management.

BACKGROUND: Herpes zoster (HZ), caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV), initially produces chicken-pox, then the virus lies dormant in the dorsal root ganglia. The virus can reactivate after many years and results in HZ along ganglion's distribution. Old age, trauma, stress, diabetes mellitus, and immune suppression are important risk factors for the reactivation. Herpes zoster is characterized by unilateral radicular pain and vesicular eruption that is generally limited to the dermatome innervated by the affected ganglion. In immunocompromised individuals, disseminated zoster may develop. The aims of therapy in HZ are to control pain or reduce its severity by the use of analgesics, reduce the duration and eruption of new lesions, and prevent complications, particularly postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) by appropriate antiviral therapy.

METHODS: All cases of HZ seen in the dermatology clinic at King Fahd Hospital of the University (KFHU) from 1988 to 2006 were included in the study. Their diagnoses were based on the clinical presentation. The following parameters were collected and analyzed: age, sex, nationality, symptoms, dermatomal distribution, complications, coexisting diseases, and disease management.

RESULTS: Of 22 749 new cases seen in the dermatology clinic over 18 years, 141 were HZ, with an occurrence of 0.62%. Male to female ratio was 2:1 and the age ranged from 14 months to 80 years. The thoracic dermatomes were the most commonly involved. The most frequent coexisting disease was diabetes mellitus, and the most common complication of HZ was PHN. Most patients with HZ ophthalmicus developed eye complications.

CONCLUSION: The occurrence of HZ is 0.62% in patients reporting to the dermatology clinic of the hospital. Males are little more affected than females. The thoracic dermatomes are the most frequently involved. Diabetes mellitus is the most frequent coexisting disease. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of HZ.

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