Intravenous Administration of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Herpes Zoster-Associated Pain: Two Case Reports and Literature Review.
Herpes zoster (HZ) is an acute inflammatory neurocutaneous disease caused by the reactivation of varicella-zoster virus. It is estimated that the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia following HZ is 10-20%. The leading risk factors of the prognosis are aging and immunity dysfunction. Vitamin C plays a pivoted role in enhancing white blood cell function. Epidemiological evidence and clinical studies have indicated an association between pain and suboptimal vitamin C status. At present, vitamin C has been used as an additional option in the treatment of HZ-associated pain. Despite the current controversy, case reports and randomized controlled studies have indicated that both acute- and postherpetic neuralgia can be dramatically alleviated following intravenous vitamin C infusions. Case Presentation. Two patients (male aged 72 and female 78 years) with HZ did not respond well to antiviral therapy and analgesics. Skin lesions in the right groin and front thigh healed after early antiviral therapy, but the outbreak of pain persisted in the male patient. The female patient presented to our clinic with clusters of rashes in the right forehead with severe edema of her right upper eyelid. Because nerve blockade could not be conducted for both patients, intravenous infusion of vitamin C was applied and resulted in an immediate remission of the breakthrough pain in the male patient and cutaneous lesions in the female patient.The use of vitamin C appears to be an emerging treatment alternative for attenuating HZ and PHN pain. Hence, we recommend the addition of concomitant use of intravenously administered vitamin C into therapeutic strategies in the treatment of HZ-associated pain, especially for therapy-resistant cases. Furthermore, animal studies are required to determine analgesic mechanisms of vitamin C, and more randomized clinical trials are essential to further determine the optimal dose and timing of administration of vitamin C.