Practitioner Guidance

The Condition

Shingles is an acute inflammation of nerve ganglia caused by the herpes zoster virus. The pain experienced in acute shingles can be debilitating and about 18% of people with confirmed shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) which can linger for many months. 1

What the Research Says

Antiviral medication is effective in reducing acute herpetic pain, particularly when started within 72 hours of onset of rash. 2

Intravenous vitamin C can be used with antiviral medication. There is some evidence of an effect on acute herpetic pain when IVC is combined with standard therapy. 1,3,4 A study of IVC alone showed no effect. 5

There is evidence that intravenous vitamin C can reduce the incidence and severity of postherpetic neuralgia. 3,5,6,7


1) Schencking M., Sandholzer H., Frese T. Intravenous administration of vitamin C in the treatment of herpetic neuralgia: two case reports. Med Sci Monit. 2010;16:CS58-CS61.

2) Saguil A., Kane S., Mercado M. Herpes Zoster and Postherpetic Neuralgia: Prevention and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(10):656-663.

3) Schencking M., Vollbracht C., Weiss G., Lebert J., Biller A., Goyvaerts B., et al. Intravenous Vitamin C in the treatment of shingles: Results of a multicenter prospective cohort study. Med Sci Monit. 2012;18(4):CR215-CR224.

4) Byun S. H., Jeon Y. Administration of Vitamin C in a Patient with Herpes Zoster – A case report -. The Korean Journal of Pain. 2011;24:108-111.

5) Kim M. S., Kim D. J., Na C. H., Shin B. S. A Study of Intravenous Administration of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Acute Herpetic Pain and Postherpetic Neuralgia. Annals of Dermatology. 2016; 28:677-683.

6) Chen J.-Y., Chang C.-Y., Feng P.-H., Chu C.-C., So E. C., Hu M.-L. Plasma vitamin C is lower in postherpetic neuralgia patients and administration of vitamin C reduces spontaneous pain but not brush-evoked pain. Clin J Pain. 2009;25(7):562-569.

7) Chen J.-Y., Chu C.-C., So E. C., Hsing C.-H., Hu M.-L. Treatment of postherpetic neuralgia with intravenous administration of vitamin C. Anesth Analg. 2006;103(6):1616-1617.


The information provided here is only for general reference and cannot replace personalised professional medical advice from a doctor.

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