Difference between Shingles and Herpes: Any difference between shingles and herpes? Yes, plenty! Both are common skin conditions for many ages now. Each is typically found to affect certain parts of the body. They appear as painful and irritating rashes. At times it can be difficult to distinguish these two conditions. However, the question remains: Are they really that different?
What is Shingles
Chickenpox (or herpes zoster caused by VZV) usually occurs once in a person’s life. It can recur many years later in the form of shingles. And while chickenpox is very contagious during its dormant period (7 to 21 days), the same is not really true when it comes to shingles. Herpes (HSV 1 or 2), on the other hand, is recurrent. It is also very contagious during the dormant period and even when symptoms are present.Chickenpox and shingles have the same symptoms as they are basically caused by the same herpes zoster virus. These symptoms include blisters, rashes on the body which can be painfully itchy and irritating, fatigue, weakness, and a generally ill feeling.
What is Herpes
To start, let us discuss the nature of herpes. It is, in general, caused by the HSV (or the herpes simplex virus). Symptoms are usually mild and sometimes unrecognized.
Hence, there are a few cases that go undiagnosed. HSV is just one of the known types of herpes viruses.
To date, there are 8 types of herpes viruses found to affect humans. They are clinically referred to as the HHVs (or the herpes human viruses). This family of viruses works differently in our body and they cause varying symptoms.
HSV has two classifications: HSV 1 (or oral herpes) and HSV 2 (or genital herpes). Aside from these two HSVs, other herpes viruses include VZV (Varicella Zoster Virus for chickenpox or shingles), EBV (Ebstein Barr Virus for the mono or glandular fever), CMV (Cytomegolo Virus, which is transmitted to a pregnant woman’s unborn child), Roseolovirus (Roseola Infantum or the 6th disease), HHV7 (which is still unclassified but found to be somewhat similar to Roseolovirus), and KSHV (Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated Herpes Virus, which is a type of rhadinovirus).
HSV (whether HSV 1 or HSV 2) shows concentrated symptoms at a particular area of the body only. Symptoms include pain, sore muscles, blisters and sores on or around the genital area or lip area, cold and flu-like feelings, rashes and bumps on the skin, and fever.
These herpes symptoms are said to be very contagious. The dormant HSV virus is activated by UV rays, stress, fatigue, pregnancy, and injury to the genital area or mouth area.
Difference between Shingles and Herpes
There is actually not a big difference between shingles and herpes. They are not really poles apart when it comes to their nature. After all, they are of the same family of viruses. Technically, shingles is just a form of herpes.
Herpes is the general term to describe skin condition. It becomes specific depending on the symptoms, the location of the outbreak, and the exact herpes virus that caused it.
When it comes to treatment, there is also not a quantum of difference between shingles and herpes. Since they are of the same viral family, they are often treated with the same antiviral drugs (i.e. Valtrex) and pain medications (i.e. oxycodone). In the case of shingles, it may heal on its own within weeks of the outbreak.