BACKGROUND: Herpes zoster is a common dermatologic disease characterized by unilateral pain and vesicular eruptions. The incidence of herpes zoster seems to be increasing recently. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to elucidate the epidemiology and the clinical characteristics of herpes zoster. METHOD: During the 10-Year-Period from Jan. 1994 to Dec. 2003, 1089 patients with herpes zoster were evaluated in regard to annual incidence, age, sex, and monthly, seasonal, and dermatomic distributions. Patients with herpes zoster were further assessed concerning associated diseases and complications. RESULT: 1. The annual incidence averaged over the 10 years was 2.98% (1089 cases of total 36, 531 outpatients) which is increasing recently. 2. Herpes zoster was seen most frequently in the 7th decade of life, and the ratio of male to female was 1: 1.43. 3. There was no marked monthly or seasonal variation in the incidence of herpes zoster. 4. The most common dermatomic distribution was thoracic dermatome (49.6%), followed by trigeminal (19.5%), cervical (14.9%), lumbar (7.9%), sacral (5.3%) and multiple dermatomic involvement (2.8%). 5. Associated diseases of herpes zoster were observed in 398 patients (36.5%), which included hypertension (12.6%), diabetus mellitus(7.9%), gastric ulcer (2.8%), chronic renal failure (1.7%), asthma(1.7%), angina pectoris (1.6%), malignancy (0.6%) and so on. 6. The most common complication of herpes zoster was postherpetic neuralgia (7.4%), followed by eye complication (3.2%), secondary bacterial infection (1.8%), scar formation (0.8%), neurogenic bladder (0.4%), and Ramsay-Hunt syndrome (0.2%). CONCLUSION: Most of the results described in this study are similar to those previously reported, except for a higher incidence in female. The recent annual incidence of herpes zoster shows a tendency to increase.
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