In the case of reduced cellular immunity the previously dormant varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes the characteristic belt-shaped vesicular exanthema of herpes zoster. The initial clinical symptoms of herpes zoster are often non-specific and may lead to initial misdiagnosis. A common complication of herpes zoster is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) but secondary hematogenic dissemination is only rarely observed. In addition to general factors, such as advanced age and female gender, inflammatory rheumatic diseases and their immunosuppressive treatment are important risk factors for the occurrence of herpes zoster. Antiviral therapy initiated in the first 72 h after the onset of exanthema reduces acute symptoms and the risk of complications. The subunit inactivated vaccine, which has been available since 2018, is highly effective and relatively well-tolerated but randomized controlled trials in patients with drug-induced immunosuppression for inflammatory rheumatic diseases are still pending.
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