Shingles vs Hives


While Shingles and hives both produce itchy and red rashes they are two very different medical problems. Their symptoms and causes are much different from each other. If you think you have Shingles or are experiencing hives it is important to know the difference between each of these skin problems.

What Is Shingles?

1. Basics
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a very painful rash on the body. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also what causes chicken pox. If a person has had chicken pox than the virus lays dormant in their body until it reactivates as shingles.

2. Symptoms
The symptoms of shingles typically only occur on one side of the body. These can include a sensitivity to touch, a red rash, fluid filled blisters, itching, and pain or burning. In some cases more severe symptoms may experienced such as fever, headache, fatigue, and sensitivity to light.

3. Cause
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus. This virus lays dormant in any person who has had chicken pox. If you have had chicken pox then you can develop shingles at any time. The reason that this virus can reactivate itself is not known but it thought to be caused by lower immune system functions as a person ages.

4. Spread
A person with shingles can pass the virus on to any person who is not immune to chicken pox. The difference is if a person comes in contact with someone with shingles and has not had chicken pox, then they will get the chicken pox and not shingles.

5. Treatment
No cure for shingles is available just yet, but certain prescription medication can help the healing process and shorten the amount of time the virus will last. These antiviral drugs are often prescribed, Zovirax, Famvir, or Valtrex. Some topical creams may also be used to help with the pain and itchiness that shingles causes.

Things To Know About Hives

1. What Are They?
Hives, also medically known as uritcaria, is a skin reaction to a number of things that causes itchy and swollen patches on the skin. Hives is relatively common and will affect one out of twenty people at some point in their life.

2. Symptoms
The most common symptoms of hives are raised red welts on the skin, swelling of the skin around the welts, severe itching, spots that turn white when pressed. The welts that develop from hives can occur alone of in a group. Hives can pop up on any part of the body but most commonly on the arms, chest, or back.

3. Cause
Hives can be caused by just about anything. It is a mild allergic reactions in some cases. It is important to identify and avoid hives triggers. Some of the most common reason people get hives are pollen, latex, food allergies, plants such as poison ivy, pet dander, viral infections, and bug bites.

4. Treatment
The most effective form of treatment for hives is to identify the cause and remove it from the environment. This can be very difficult to do. Doctors can perform an array of allergy tests to help to identify the problem. Antihistamine creams may be prescribed by your doctor to help with itching. In severe cases of hives an injection of adrenaline may be necessary. You can also do some home treatments that may help ease the hives. Cool compresses and wearing loose fitting clothes may provide some relief.

Differences Between Shingles and Hives

1. Cause
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, same as chicken pox. Hives are a skin reaction to many different things, including pets, soaps, foods, and medications.

2. Symptoms
Hives cause red and itchy welts to form on parts of the skin but do not cause blisters. Hives are also not painful to the touch. Shingles on the other hand cause a nasty rash with fluid filled blisters that often burst. The rash caused by shingles is also very painful.

3. Occurrence
Shingles can only develop in someone who has had the chicken pox, which means that the amount of shingles cases will slowly decline due to the chicken pox vaccine. Hives can occur on anyone and at any time. They can also occur multiple times, Shingles will typically only be developed once.