What Is The Difference Between Shingles And Herpes?

What is the difference between shingles and herpes?

Two completely different viruses cause shingles and herpes, but they are from viruses. Typically herpes is caused by herpes simplex. The oral herpes variant that can cause cold sores and fever blisters is known as herpes simplex 1. In comparison, genital herpes is usually caused by herpes simplex 2. The herpes zoster causes the condition known as shingles. The same infection herpes zoster can also cause chickenpox, and the herpes zoster virus can live within the human body for multiple years. Even after chickenpox is gone, it has the potential to emerge as painful blisters.

What is Herpes?

Herpes is an infection commonly transmitted sexually, and the herpes simplex virus causes it. Sexual contact is the primary way in which the virus is transmitted. After the infection, the virus can stay dormant in the body for up to multiple years and can sometimes reactivate multiple times a year. Herpes can cause itchiness, sores, and pain in the area around the genitals. But you might not have any or no symptoms or signs of genital herpes. If you become infected, you still are contagious even without any symptoms and signs such as sores. Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes though medications can decrease the risk of infecting other people and ease the signs and symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Herpes

Most of the people who have unfortunately been infected with herpes are not aware that they have it. This is because they do not have any symptoms and signs, or maybe the symptoms and signs are so mild. After you get infected, the symptoms can start from about two to 12 days after exposure. Some of the symptoms and signs associated with herpes include:

  • Pain and itchiness: you might experience some tenderness and pain around your genital area.
  • Tiny white blisters or small red bumps: these might appear after a few days up to a few weeks after the initial infection.
  • Scabs: your skin will crust and form over the scabs as the ulcers start to heal.
  • Ulcers: these will normally form after the blisters burst and bleed and ooze. Ulcers have the potential to be painful while you urinate.

During the first outbreak, you might experience some flu-like symptoms and signs such as fever, muscle aches, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes around your groin area. Herpes has the potential to affect different people differently. The symptoms and signs might reoccur on and off for multiple years. Some people might experience numerous episodes each year. However, for multiple people, the outbreaks will become less frequent with time.

What is Shingles?

This is an infection caused by a virus that can cause a painful rash. It can appear anywhere on the body and mostly appear as a stripe of blisters that will either wrap around the right or left side of your torso. The zoster virus is responsible for causing the shingle virus. The zoster virus is also the same virus that can cause chickenpox. The virus can lie dormant in the nerve tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. After multiple years the virus has the potential to reactivate again. After some time, it is reactive and works its way down from the spinal cord up to your skin. But not everyone who has had chickenpox before will develop the infection. The infection typically affects people who have weak immune systems and older adults. The virus is not deadly, but it can be excruciating and uncomfortable to live with. Vaccines can reduce the risk of infection. Early treatment can help control the condition and decrease the chances of any complications. The virus can be transmitted through contact with open sores that developed from the rash.


Some of the symptoms and signs normally affect only one side of the body. The symptoms and signs include:

  • Sensitive to touch.
  • Pain, burning sensation, tenderness, and numbness.
  • A rash that appears a few days after the pain starts.
  • Itching.
  • Blister filled with fluids that crust over after the break.

Some people might also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light

Pain is normally one of the first symptoms and signs. For some people, the pain might be moderate, while the pain can be severe for others. The pain can sometimes be accidentally mistaken for a symptom and sign of a problem affecting the lungs, the heart, or the kidneys. Some people will experience the pain even without the rash. Sometimes the inflammation can affect one of your eyes or one side of the face or neck.

Best Ointment for Shingles

Scratching the rashes can prolong blisters and can cause scarring. When the itching does not get better after a cool compress, a healing bath or cornstarch, or baking soda mixtures, it is advisable to use soothing creams and lotions or shingles ointment.

The best ointment for shingles is capsaicin as a natural ingredient, and apply it on your sores at least three to four times a day. Capsaicin provides an anti-inflammatory effect to assist with the pain. Pain may increase after using the cream for the first time, but it will slowly go away with time. This cream works by blocking the pain signal being sent to the brain. You can also use shingles ointment after taking showers and baths to help dry out the blisters and soothe irritated skin.


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