You want to know what is the difference between herpes simplex and herpes zoster? We can understand that, because the herpes viruses causes both herpes simplex and herpes zoster, both are rashes and they are often confused.

First of all, let us show you the symptoms of both these conditions:

Herpes simplex, also known as oral herpes or genital herpes, cause:

  • Pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Blisers around lip area or genital area
  • Sores on lip area or genital area
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Rash and bumps on skin
  • Fever


Herpes zoster, also known as chickenpox or shingles, causes:

  • Rash on skin
  • Blisters
  • Painful, irritating and itchy rashes
  • A generally sick feeling


The herpes simplex virus is activated by sunlight, injury to genital area or lip area, stress and fatigue, while when talking about hepes zoster chickenpox appears after 7-21 from the contact with the virus. Shingles shows its symptoms years after chickenpox infection.

While hepes simplex is very contagious, chickenpox is contagious during 7-21 day period and shingles is not vey contagious.

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Here are more distinguishing characteristics regarding herpes simplex vs. herpes zoster

Herpes simplexHerpes zoster
EpitheliumEdematous epithelial cells are surrounding linear defect with bare stromaElevated, painted-on appearance
StainingDiseased borders of epithelial cells stain with rose Bengal, ulcer base stains with fluoresceinMinimal fluorescein staining
Terminal bulbsFrequentNo terminal bulbs


What the statistics say about hepes simplex vs. herpes zoster?

  • More than 1 in 5 americans are currently infected with herpes simplex
  • Herpes simplex is more common when it comes to women
  • Hepes simplex is more common among adults between 20-30 years
  • A maximum of 30% patients go to see a doctor when they are suffering from herpes simplex
  • 4 million people and kids in the USA, are contacting chickenpox in the USA every year
  • Almost 100 deaths are caused every year, by chickenpox and 14 000 hospitalization
  • The odds to get shingles are bigger when talking about people over the age of 60
  • During lifetime, approximately 20% of americans are infected with shingles

Treatment for hepes simplex vs. treatment for hepes zoster

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Unfortunately, these infections do not have a specific cure, but their impact can be minimalized by taking some measures.

Herpes simplex:

  • Paracetamol or Ibuprofen to ease the pain
  • Baths with salted water
  • Apply any kind of petroleum jelly
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing
  • Wash your hand carefully
  • Limit your sexual activity

Herpes zoster:

  • Vaccines: 100% immunity from this condition can’t be guaranteed by taking a vaccine but it significantly reduce the changes of someone suffering from herpes zoster
  • Antiviral drugs are very good is the condition is detected at an early stage
  • Paracetamol for the pain
  • Apply iodine on the rash


We hope that you found out the differences between herpes simplex vs. herpes zoster. If you have any addition questions, or if you think that we missed out informations, please let us know and share your comments with us.

Also, we encourage you to share your experience with herpes and you can help other readers.