The pain and itching associated with shingles and herpes may be due to the virus causing a “short circuit” in the nerve cells that reach the skin, Princeton researchers have found.
This short circuit appears to cause repetitive, synchronized firing of nerve cells, the researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This cyclical firing may be the cause of the persistent itching and pain that are symptoms of oral and genital herpes as well as shingles and chicken pox, according to the researchers.
These diseases are all caused by viruses of the herpes family. Understanding how these viruses cause discomfort could lead to better strategies for treating symptoms.