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Pediatr Int. 2019 Oct 19. doi: 10.1111/ped.14025. [Epub ahead of print]

Complications of herpes zoster in children.

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Center for Postgraduate Education and Training, National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of General Pediatrics & Interdisciplinary Medicine, National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medical Subspecialties, National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan.



Herpes zoster (HZ) may cause complications; however, information regarding complications of HZ in children is relatively sparse. We reviewed cases of HZ in children retrospectively and investigated the risk factors contributing to the development of complications.


A retrospective observational study was conducted at a tertiary care children's hospital in Japan. Children receiving a diagnosis of HZ between January 2010 and October 2016 were identified from electronic medical records. In this study, the following diseases were recognized as complications of HZ: bacterial skin infection, facial paralysis, meningitis, uveitis and keratitis, postherpetic neuralgia, acute retinal necrosis, pneumonia, and otitis interna. Details regarding clinical information of HZ patients with complications were described.


We found 138 cases with HZ. Among these, 58 (42%) occurred in immunocompetent children and 80 cases (58%) occurred in immunocompromised children. Complications were observed in 10 cases of immunocompromised children and in eight cases of immunocompetent children. Although secondary bacterial skin infection was the most common complication (n = 6, 33.3%), severe complications such as facial paralysis (n = 3, 16.7%), meningitis (n = 2, 11.1%), uveitis and keratitis (n= 2, 11.1%), acute retinal necrosis (n = 1, 5.6%), pneumonia (n = 1, 5.6%), and otitis interna (n = 1, 5.6%) were observed. Patients with complications tended to have a rash on the head or neck, compared with those without complications (n = 9, 50% vs n = 18, 15%; P = 0.001).


Severe HZ complications may occur in immunocompetent children. Development of a rash on the head or neck might be a risk factor for complications.


complications; herpes zoster; immunocompetent children; varicella-zoster immunization


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