Herpes Simplex vs. Herpes Zoster: Know the Difference

Most people have heard of herpes, but there are actually a few different types. Herpes simplex and herpes zoster are in the same viral family, but they’re distinct diseases. Learn more about the differences to ensure you take the proper precautions and receive treatment if needed.

Herpes Viruses

Herpes is the general name for viruses in the family Herpesviridae. These viruses can infect animals and humans. Most people will experience at least one variant in their lifetime.

Herpes Simplex (HSV)

HSV is an infection that can cause more specific forms of herpes: genital and oral. HSV may result in blisters or sores around your mouth, lips, genitals, or other body parts.

In many cases, people can have HSV without knowing it. This is because it’s common to live with this virus without ever having an active outbreak.

Many people think of HSV exclusively as a sexually transmitted disease, but that’s a misconception. This prolific virus can travel in other ways, and more than 90 percent of all adults will likely be exposed to the oral variant, HSV-1, by the age of 50. The genital variant, HSV-2, is also widespread, and, contrary to their names, both can spread through oral or genital contact.

Herpes Zoster (Varicella Zoster Virus)

Herpes zoster is also known as shingles. Its culprit is the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

VSV stays dormant in your system after you’ve had chickenpox and is a precursor to shingles. Anyone can get shingles, but your risk rises with age. In the US, around 1/3 of all people will develop shingles at some point.

This virus can come with pain, itching, or tingling. You may also face fevers, headaches, chills, and an upset stomach. Many people develop uncomfortable, blistering rashes on one side of their bodies. More rarely, certain people experience long-lasting nerve pain, vision loss, hearing infections, brain inflammation, or other possible health risks.

Schedule a Consultation With Vivian Bucay, MD

Herpes simplex and herpes zoster may be distantly related, but the way they spread and impact your health are distinct. No matter what herpes virus you’re dealing with, getting prompt treatment is your best chance at minimizing the negative effects. Find out what comes next by booking a consultation with Vivian Bucay, MD, in San Antonio, TX. Call 210-692-3000 now, or reach out via the web.

Schedule A Consultation



01. Get to know Dr. Bucay, Dr. Bhandari and Dr. Noorily.

02. Help her understand you and your goals.

03. Learn about our services and specialties.

“Very comfortable environment, all staff very were very professional, and Dr. Bucay was a delight. She is an artist with the skills and compassion that focus specifically on the clients needs. Dr. Bucay is amazing.”

–Jorie K.


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A Message from Dr. Bucay: Champions for Change Gala

This year I am honored to join the committee for the Champions for Change Gala, taking place on May 10, 2023 at Ziegfield Ballroom in NYC.

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