Skin is your body’s largest organ and can be affected by a variety of ailments. Shingles and hives are both conditions which affect your skin; however, their similarities end there. These dermatological conditions have different causes, symptoms, duration and treatments.
Hives, or urticaria, are itchy, swollen pink or red areas which are usually caused by an allergic reaction to medication, food or insect bites. Herpes zoster, or shingles, is caused by the same virus which causes chicken pox. The virus remains dormant within your nerve cells.
Symptoms of hives include welts of varying sizes which itch, burn or sting. Severe cases may cause swelling of the surrounding tissues. Shingles are characterized by burning, tingling pain or extreme sensitivity in a specific area of skin and a subsequent red, blistering rash which appears in the same area.
An acute case of hives will dissipate within 6 weeks (some cases disappear within a matter of days) while chronic urticaria lasts longer. Shingles usually clear up within a few weeks, although if treated with anti-viral medication early on, the duration may be shorter.
Treatment for Hives
The most effective treatment for hives is to identify and eliminate the underlying cause. Antihistamines may be helpful in alleviating some of the itching and severe cases may be treated with epinephrine or cortisone.
Herpes zoster is usually treated with pain relievers and cool compresses to alleviate some of the painful symptoms. If taken within 72 hours of the virus’ onset, an anti-viral medication may be helpful.