Herpes zoster in children


      Background: The clinical studies of series of children with herpes zoster (HZ) are rather limited. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the epidemiologic conditions, clinical manifestations, therapy, and outcome of HZ in children. Methods: Twenty-one patients with HZ have been studied. Five patients who had herpes simplex virus infection were excluded. The laboratory diagnosis was made by fluorescent techniques. Acyclovir was administered systematically for 2 more days after no new lesions had developed. Results: Thirteen patients (group A) were immunocompromised; eight patients (group B) were otherwise healthy. Two patients from group B had intrauterine varicella; the other six patients had had varicella under the age of 4 years. Three patients were recently exposed to varicella. The duration of HZ was significantly longer in group A than in group B, but the outcome was good in all patients. Conclusion: Herpes simplex virus infection may simulate the pattern of HZ; varicella in early childhood is a risk factor for HZ in otherwise healthy children; exposure of a child to varicella may cause reactivation of latent HZ virus; and acyclovir therapy within 3 days of exanthem onset prevents significant morbidity and death in immunocompromised children with HZ. (J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;39:207-10.)
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