Herpes Zoster Etiology, Clinical Course, and Suggested Management

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Herpes zoster is an acute viral infection that results from reactivation of a latent varicella-zoster virus often acquired as chickenpox during childhood. Fifty percent of all people living to the age of 85 will have an attack of zoster. The goal of intervention is to reduce associated pain and discomfort. A prompt diagnosis and appropriate management can best be achieved by understanding the disease and treatment options. While herpes zoster occurs with greater frequency in the geriatric population, it can occur throughout an individual's life span. The nurse practitioner working in any setting is likely to see patients present with herpes zoster. A protocol for patient management is included in this article as a resource for the nurse practitioner who encounters this diagnosis.

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