There are 8 different herpes simplex viruses. Herpes and shingles are 2 types of herpes simplex virus family. They are so confused and affect people life. In some cases, they are also life-threatening. Although they are the same type of virus but they are different viruses. The symptoms as well as causes are also different from them. But some people cannot distinguish between herpes and shingles.

What are herpes and shingles?

Herpes causes oral herpes and genital herpes, it is caused by virus HSV1 and virus HSV2. Two kinds of virus are in herpes simplex virus family. While HSV1 leads to oral herpes (cold sore around the mouth or lips), HSV 2 causes genital herpes (sores in the genital area).  Both of them are confused and make people discomfort.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a common infection. It’s caused by the varicella-zoster that is one of the herpes simplex viruses. Or it’s also called virus HHV3. This virus can lead to painful skin rash with blisters in the part of the body. HHV3 is the same virus that causes chicken pox. After the chicken pox is passed, this virus will stay dormant in the brain or nervous system in a long time. Then, it can revive as herpes zoster. But in some cases, this virus is quiet forever and doesn’t cause any symptoms.

Herpes - diagnosis written on a white piece of paper. Syringe and vaccine with drugs.

What are symptoms of herpes and shingles?

People sometimes misunderstand what singles and herpes are. It’s because they have some similar signs that make people difficult to identify. Here are some difference symptoms between them:

Herpes with blisters will appear around lips, mouth and genital area. At the first time, people will feel itching, burning around their lips, mouth or genital area, and blisters will appear. Then, these small blisters will break out. After that, blisters can unify and cause painful. Sometimes, they can have some signs like sore throat, fever, headache and muscle ache. When having these viruses, people can feel painful during urination with genital herpes and sore with oral herpes.

Some people can have initial symptoms after getting these virus in the body in 4-7 days of infection. But the others can take a long time or doesn’t have any signs. Once you have this virus, it will exist in your body forever. When your immune system is weak, it can be appeared. But you shouldn’t be too worried because your body can create immunity against the virus over time. Even when the symptoms come back, they usually last for only 10 days.

Shingles (herpes zoster) has several symptoms. At the first time, you can have headache and feel discomfort. You can have flu but it isn’t fever. Although these symptoms can be caused by a lot of different disease, you can realize it by other signs. After feeling headaches, you can feel pain, tingling or itching in a certain area. This is because the dormant virus begin to work strongly. This pain is occurred in the chest, upper facial region or tummy. It sometimes can be caused in hearts, lungs or kidneys.

The initial skin rash can be appeared, the pain and rash will occur at the same time and on the face, eyes or other parts of the body. This usually occurs two or three days after the initial signs happen, but in some cases, the rash can show in three weeks or longer.  After developing of the rash, vesicles can occur. This because blisters in the skin break out and create serous exudate. When passing this period, it can leave scars in your skin. To sum up, herpes zoster (shingles) last about 2-4 weeks.

Close up of female lips affected by herpes virus

Treatments for herpes and shingles

Two diseases are caused by different viruses and have unlike symptoms but the treatment of them may be the same.

For herpes. It doesn’t have any cure but it can be relieved and outbreaks can be controlled by medication available or home treatment. You can use antiviral drugs such as: famciclovir, acyclovir as well as valacyclovir. They can reduce the symptoms of herpes and shorten of outbreaks. But, they are only effective when patients receive them after the rash appears immediately. Besides, you can use ibuprofen and paracetamol to ease the pain or apply Vaseline in the hurt. And remember that avoid wearing tight clothes around the hurt region and wash your hand regularly, especially after touching the infected area.

For shingles. The disease can’t be treated, but you can use medicine to relive the symptoms of it. Using strong antiviral medicine such as famciclovir, acyclovir as well as valacyclovir. They are the same with drugs that are used for herpes treatment. Besides, you should keep your wound clean, avoid touching with other people who don’t have chicken pox before or who are weak. And wash your hands frequently. But it’s necessary for you to get vaccine. It will help you prevent from developing serious symptoms of herpes zoster.

Although two diseases are caused by different viruses, people should have some knowledge to identify them and have right treatment in right time and right methods.