Several types of cutaneous lesions have previously been described at the sites of herpes zoster scars. We describe 16 patients with cutaneous lesions which had developed on herpes zoster scars. Biopsies were taken from these lesions, and a polymerase chain reaction assay was used to detect the viral genome in paraffin-embedded specimens. Histopathological findings enabled diagnosis of nonspecific granulomatous dermatitis in five patients, granulomatous vasculitis in two patients, lichen sclerosus in two patients, and pseudolymphoma, keloid, sarcoidal granuloma, granuloma annulare, granulomatous folliculitis, lichen planus and cutaneous Rosai–Dorfman disease, each in one patient. Varicella-zoster virus DNA was not identified in any of the patients. Granulomatous folliculitis, lichen sclerosus and cutaneous Rosai–Dorfman disease have not previously been described in herpes zoster scars, but they are three new cutaneous reaction patterns that may have developed within these scars. Our investigations indicate that the cutaneous reactions appearing in herpes zoster scars are not due to the persistence of varicella-zoster virus DNA within the lesions.