Shingles & Cold Sores

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What are Shingles and Cold Sores?

While shingles and cold sores are different viruses, they can be thought of as cousins, since they both belong to the same viral subfamily.


Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus will stay inactive in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain. Years later in life, the virus may reactivate as shingles. A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who is not immune to chickenpox.

Common signs of shingles usually affect a small area of the body and include:

  • Sensitivity to touch.
  • Pain, numbness, burning, or tingling.
  • A red rash that begins a few days following the pain.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over.
  • Itching.

Some people may also experience a fever, headache, fatigue, and sensitivity to light with their shingles.

Cold Sores

Cold sores, which are infectious blisters on the mouth or lips, are caused by herpes simplex virus 1 and/or 2. They are often grouped together in patches and may break over time, leading to a scab. Cold sores usually heal in about 2-3 weeks without leaving a scar. They are spread by close contact with another person, such as kissing. They are contagious even if you do not see the sores.

Common signs of a cold sore include:

  • Itching and tingling around the lips.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that erupt along the border of the lips.
  • Small blisters that burst, leaving an open sore that oozes and crusts over.

Some patients may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Painful gums
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Treatment Options for Shingles and Cold Sores

There is a selection of treatment options for both shingles and cold sores to relieve your symptoms and get you back to your everyday routine as quickly as possible. These include:

Shingles Treatment

There is no cure for shingles, but prompt treatment can help to speed up the healing process. Prescription antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir can help. Shingles can also cause severe pain for some, so your doctor may also prescribe medications to help with discomfort such as gabapentin, amitriptyline, or more. Shingles usually last between 2-6 weeks. Most people only get shingles once in their lifetime though it is possible to get it more than once.

Cold Sore Treatment

Cold sores usually clear up without treatment within 2-4 weeks. However, some prescription antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir, and penciclovir can help to speed up the healing process. For severe cold sore infections, some antiviral drugs can be given as an injection.

Ideal Candidates for Shingles and Cold Sores Treatment

Anyone who thinks they may have shingles or a cold sore can benefit from treatment. The best way to determine if you are a candidate for treatment is through an assessment with Dr. Erwin. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment.

Contact Us Today

If you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of shingles or a cold sore, do not hesitate to contact our office by calling 979-543-9933. We will be more than happy to help you schedule your initial appointment with Dr. Erwin, which is your first step toward treatment.