Strong Connection Exists Between Herpes Zoster, Diabetes


Glucose levels should be screened at herpes zoster diagnosis.

There is a strong connection between herpes zoster and diabetes, according to a review published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association.

Herpes zoster is a painful neuropathic condition that occurs due to the reactivation of the latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) in the cranial nerve or dorsal root ganglia, with viral spread to the affected dermatome. It occurs most frequently in the elderly, females, white ethnicity, in persons with a positive family history of herpes zoster, those with a history of chickenpox in utero or in early infancy, and immunocompromised individuals.

The review found that the rate of herpes zoster is higher in individuals with diabetes. This is due to the fact that people living with diabetes have significantly lower VZV related cell-mediated immunity, according to the study. Additionally, post-herpetic pain is more prevalent in patients with diabetes.

It is also believed that certain drugs that are commonly used to treat diabetes and related conditions, such as dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitors, increase the risk of herpes zoster, according to the study. Although current treatments do not recommend diabetes screening for patients with herpes zoster, glucose levels should be screened at herpes zoster diagnosis, the study authors noted. A second screening may be done a week later in order to rule out stress hyperglycemia.


Herpes zoster and diabetes [Journal article] August 2016; Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association. Accessed December 2, 2020.

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