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Shingles can cause long-lasting nerve damage
that can persist for months or even years

There is no way to know when shingles will strike.

Personal Stories

The following Australians have shared their personal experience with shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)

Elizabeth Wallan, VIC
“I have suffered from chronic pain for nearly 10 years now and wish I could have just one day without the pain. It started as a sharp pain below my sternum that tracked across the nerve line on the right-hand side of my body and still persists to this day.

I am able to manage with the pain on a daily basis; however there have been times over the years when I’ve cried because I would like just one day without pain. Mostly the pain is bearable and in the background, but sometimes I get a sharp stabbing pain or ‘knotting’ of the muscle, that comes on without warning and I don’t know what triggers it.”

Patient experiences may vary

This has been 18 months,
18 months of ongoing, never ending pain...
At the moment I’ve got a blow torch running through my hip, and running right down my leg. It’s there constantly, and it’s painful and that’s with medications.
SHARLENE, KORUMBURRA, VIC Watch Sharlene’s story

What is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)?

  • Pain for a period of 3 months or longer following the shingles rash is defined as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).
  • It is a debilitating pain which can develop from damage to the nerves caused by the varicella zoster virus, which causes shingles.
  • PHN is the most common complication of shingles.
  • PHN is difficult to treat and can last for months or even years, long after the shingles rash has healed.

What is the pain from PHN feel like?

  • The pain can vary from mild to severe.
  • Up to 90% of people with PHN experience allodynia, where light touch such as wearing clothes or the weight of a blanket in bed causes pain.
  • PHN pain can impact every aspect of life, an Australian survey of PHN found that:
    • 2 in 3 people reduced or stopped socialising
    • Almost 1 in 3 people had difficulty with simple activities such as getting dressed
    • Sleep was also impacted

Pain due to nerve damage (PHN) is different to other types of pain and is often described as:

Who is at risk of developing PHN?

  • Up to 20% of adults with shingles may develop PHN.
  • Risk and severity increases with age.
  • For more information about shingles and PHN please talk to your doctor.




For further information about shingles and its complications such as PHN download the following resources:

Shingles poster
Detailed patient survey findings
Shingles information leaflet


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