Herpes zoster is an acute herpetic dermal disease caused by varicella -zoster virus, clinically characterized by a cluster of blisters distributed like a belt along one side of the body, and is very painful. Clinically, those with primary infection are manifested by chickenpox of insidious infection. When virus enters the cutaneous sensory neural endings, it moves toward center along neural fibers and is persistently latent in the neurons of ganglions on the posterior spinal neural roots. When immune function of host cell subsides, for instance, in malignant tumors, traumatic injury, radiotherapy, side effect of certain medications, and overstrain, virus is activated to cause the attacked ganglion inflamed and necrotic, leading to neuralgia. Virus migrates along peripheral nerve fiber to the skin to present segmental herpes.
In Chinese Medicine, Herpes Zoster belongs to “Fire Blister along the Lumbus.” The onset is often caused by internal pathogenic dampness due to internal accumulation of dampness and heat in the liver meridian or failure of the spleen in transportation and invasion of exogenous toxins and transmission of pathogenic dampness and heat to the skin along the meridians, and also by obstruction in the meridians. If anti-pathogenic ability becomes deficient and qi and blood are stagnant, pain can last continuously.
Treatment Based on Syndrome Differentiation:
-Syndrome of Dampness and Heat in Liver Meridian -> tx: clear away fire from liver, dissolve toxins and remove dampness; Formula: Longdan Xie Gan Decoction
-Syndrome of Accumulation of Dampness due to Spleen Deficiency -> tx: strengthen the spleen, regulate qi, dissolve toxins and remove dampness; Formula: Chu Shi Wei Ling Decoction
-Qi Stagnation and Blood-Stasis Syndrome -> tx: invigorate blood, dissolve stasis, regulate qi and stop pain; Formula: Xue Fu Zhu Yu Decoction