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Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) ; 11(4): 1119-1126, 2021 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1230303


Herpes zoster (HZ) is associated with substantial morbidity. It is caused by reactivation of the latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) following decline in cell-mediated immunity, which is commonly age-related, but also occurs in individuals with immunosuppressive diseases and/or treatment. Since coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, has been associated with T cell immune dysfunction and there have been reports of HZ in COVID-19 patients, we have performed a review of available literature on whether COVID-19 could trigger HZ. We identified 27 cases of HZ following COVID-19, which most frequently occurred within 1-2 weeks of COVID-19, and the majority of cases had typical presentation. Atypical presentations of HZ were noted especially in patients with lymphopenia. It has been hypothesized that VZV reactivation occurs as a consequence of T cell dysfunction (including lymphopenia and lymphocyte exhaustion) in COVID-19 patients. Based on current evidence, which is limited to case reports and case series, it is not possible to determine whether COVID-19 increases the risk of HZ. Practitioners should be aware of the possible increased risk of HZ during the pandemic period and consider timely therapeutic and preventive measures against it.