Post-herpetic neuralgia is a disturbance that lasts for a month or longer after shingles—an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. Pain in the same distribution as the rash is described as burning, sharp, jabbing, or deep and aching. There can also be sensitivity to touch, numbness, or itching.


  • Gabapentin is similar to gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which modulates the amount of calcium entering nerve cells. This affects neurotransmitters, molecules that carry messages between brain cells and other nerve cells, lowering pain. It can be taken three times a day unless it causes dizziness, in which case it can be taken only at bedtime. This allows patients some measure of pain relief and may help them get some restful sleep.
  • Lyrica (pregabalin) is has a similar mechanism as gabapentin.
  • Lidocaine, an anesthetic, can be applied in a 5% gel or patch form to numb up the skin and nerves
  • Antidepressants, prescribed in low doses, can affect brain molecules that have to do with how the nervous system interprets pain
    • Nortriptyline increases serotonin and norepinephrine, molecules allowing communication between nerve (brain) cells
    • Cymbalta (amitriptyline) increases serotonin and norepinephrine
    • Effexor (venlafaxine) increases serotonin and norepinephrine

Did you know? QuickMD can treat your post-herpetic neuralgia remotely via telemedicine and prescribe gabapentin or other medications online.