LivingHerpes zoster in patients with multiple myeloma

Herpes zoster in patients with multiple myeloma

Wearing a shirt that is too tight or rubbing even soft fabrics such as sheets is a great annoyance for patients affected by herpes zoster (HZ), a viral infection that triggers a skin rash that can cause severe pain and become incapacitating for the who suffers from it

Teresa Regueiro is the president and founder of the Spanish Community of Patients with Multiple Myeloma (MM), and, in addition, she suffered from herpes zoster on two occasions, which is why she considers herself an “empowered and informed” patient in the face of certain infections. This fact, despite the personal situation regarding the disease, has helped Regueiro to know the symptoms of HZ, even before suffering from it.

In hematological patients, it is recommended to take a preventive treatment to avoid it since, as he explains, many of the treatments that these patients usually carry out for their disease have immunosuppression and the appearance of HZ as a side effect. “It is a very rare pain, it is neither muscle pain nor bone pain, the skin hurts and the pain is very strong,” laments Regueiro, who treated the infection with his hematologist, having to go to the consultation frequently, at least every two months for MM reviews. This viral infection is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and can be reactivated in the form of herpes zoster, usually in situations of lowering the body’s defenses.

Javier De la Serna, specialist in Hematology at the Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre (Madrid), points out that professionals who work in this specialty incorporate the vaccine before applying treatments that reduce immunity, as he explains.

HZ appears as a painful rash with vesicles and ulcers, which can last from a week to ten days , and in risk patients “it is more serious, longer lasting, more painful and with a higher risk of postherpetic neuralgia”, indicates the expert. This infection, which appears in the first few days as an itch, develops vesicles over the days, producing pain that can be very strong. Due to this, the hematologist insists on the importance of detecting HZ early “in order to apply antiviral treatment and thus correct the lesions and avoid the risk of the worst of the consequences of HZ: postherpetic neuralgia”, a disorder that affects the nerve fibers and the skin producing pain.

Thus, De la Serna recommends vaccination with the conjugate vaccine, since it reduces the risk of infection in these patients by more than sixty percent. In cases where individuals have suffered an outbreak of HZ, and even after treatment that includes antivirals, sequelae may remain. The affected nerve can be damaged with pain that is difficult to control and it is necessary to resort to powerful analgesics and even opiates”, explains De la Serna.

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