Varicella zoster virus: review of its management


Dr Mayson B Mustafa, Oral medicine Section, Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Khartoum, P.O Box 102, Khartoum, 11111, Sudan. Tel: +249914103720, Fax: +249 183 745612, E-mail:


Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is one of eight herpes viruses known to infect humans. Primary infection causes varicella (chickenpox), after which virus becomes latent. Years later, VZV reactivates and causes a wide range of neurological diseases. The aim of the present report was to critically examine the published literature to evaluate advantages and limitations of therapy of VZV infection in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. Aciclovir (ACV) has been the drug of choice for many years for the treatment of VZV infections. Recently, other antiviral agents have been developed to overcome the low oral bioavailability of ACV, as well as to provide a more flattering dosage regime. Chickenpox is a benign self-limiting disease in the majority of cases and usually no specific treatment is required. Treatment of shingles is indicated to reduce the acute symptoms of pain and malaise, to limit the spread and duration of the skin lesions and to prevent the development of post-herpetic neuralgia. Different classes of drugs have been used for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia. The first choice of any of these medications should be guided by the patient’s medical health, the likely adverse effects of the drug and the patient’s preference.