A Study of Intravenous Administration of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Acute Herpetic Pain and Postherpetic Neuralgia

Ann Dermatol. 2016 Dec;28(6):677-683. doi: 10.5021/ad.2016.28.6.677. Epub 2016 Nov 23.


Background: Although there are several available management strategies for treatment of both acute pain of herpes zoster (HZ) and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), it is difficult to treat them adequately.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of intravenously administrated vitamin C on acute pain and its preventive effects on PHN in patients with HZ.

Methods: Between September 2011 and May 2013 eighty-seven patients who were admitted for HZ were assessed according to age, sex, underlying diseases, duration of pain and skin lesion, dermatomal distribution, and PHN. It was a randomized controlled study, in which 87 patients were randomly allocated into the ascorbic acid group and control group. Each patient received normal saline infusion with or without 5 g of ascorbic acid on days 1, 3, and 5 then answered questionnaires that included side effects and pain severity using visual analogue scale on days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. After discharge, the severity of pain was obtained at out-patient clinic or by telephone on weeks 2, 4, 8, and 16.

Results: There was no differences in severity of pain on patients' age, sex, underlying diseases, duration of pain and skin lesion and dermatomal distribution between two groups (p>0.05). Since 8th week, pain score in ascorbic acid treatment group was significantly lower than control group (p <0.05). The incidence of PHN was significantly lower in the treatment group compared to control group (p=0.014). The changes of overall pain score was significantly different between the two groups (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Intravenously administered ascorbic acid did not relieve acute HZ pain; but is effective for reducing the incidence of PHN.

Keywords: Ascorbic acid; Herpes zoster; Postherpetic neuralgia.