Does the Shingles Vaccine Prevent Cold Sores?

Shingles and cold sores result from different types of herpes viruses. So, while the shingles vaccine is very effective at preventing shingles, it doesn’t prevent cold sores.

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of your body when a dormant virus reactivates inside your body. Specifically, it’s the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) — the same virus that causes chickenpox.Most cases of shingles last 3–5 weeks, but pain can linger even after the rash or blisters clear up.However, you can reduce your risk of shingles with a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 50 and older and people with a weakened immune system get two doses of the recombinant zoster vaccine, Shingrix.Some people have wondered whether the shingles vaccine can also prevent another type of infection caused by a different type of herpes virus: cold sores.

Does the shingles vaccine prevent cold sores?

There’s some anecdotal evidence that the shingles vaccine may also help protect against boutons de fièvre. However, these claims aren’t backed up by research or clinical trials.

Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters around the mouth that form due to infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two main types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both can cause oral and genital herpes, although HSV-1 more commonly causes oral herpes.

The shingle vaccine protects against reactivation of VZV. It’s not intended to protect against HSV.

No current vaccine can prevent HSV infections.

Are shingles and cold sores related?

It’s understandable that some people think that cold sores and shingles are related. Zona is also known as herpes zoster, and people may get that confused with herpes simplex, which causes cold sores.

But shingles and cold sores are distinct conditions caused by different viruses — VZV and HSV, respectively. These two viruses do, however, belong to the same group of viruses called herpes viruses. VZV is sometimes known as human herpesvirus 3.

Like HSV, VZV can lie dormant in your body and reactivate. Reactivation of HSV can cause cold sores, while reactivation of VZV causes shingles. The same antiviral medications treat both infections.

Recent research suggests there may be closer ties between the two viruses. A 2024 study found that prior HSV infections may help protect against shingles. However, more research is needed.

How can I prevent or treat cold sores?

Because no vaccine currently exists to prevent cold sores, the best method of prevention is avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact like kissing with anyone who has HSV. Even if they don’t have a visible outbreak, the virus can still spread. That is, even when cold sores can’t be seen yet, they can still be contagious.

Also, if you know that you already have an HSV infection, you can take steps to prevent reactivation of the virus. For example, it can help to avoid things that tend to trigger outbreaks, such as stress, exposure to sunlight, and anything that dampens or suppresses your immune system.

Cold sore outbreaks typically resolve within 1–2 weeks. An antiviral ointment such as penciclovir (Denavir) can help reduce the pain and help with healing.

You might also get some symptom relief by using an over-the-counter topical anesthetic treatment such as docosanol (Abreva) or applying cold compresses. If you have a severe case, a doctor may prescribe an oral antiviral medication.

There’s no cure for cold sores. Once you contract HSV, it remains in your system. It may stay dormant for long periods. However, if the virus reactivates, you will develop new cold sores.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions that people often have:

Does the shingles vaccine protect against anything else?

le shingles vaccine effectively protects against shingles and complications such as postherpetic neuralgia. Experts recommend it for adults who’ve had chickenpox or shingles in the past, as well as adults who’ve had the chickenpox vaccine and adults who don’t remember if they ever had chickenpox.

Quelques researchers are proposing that the herpes zoster vaccine might also protect against dementia. But more research is needed.

Does the HPV vaccine prevent cold sores?

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a very common infection. The CDC estimates that about 42 million Americans have an infection with a type of HPV that can cause disease, such as cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and back of the throat.

As 85% of people will get an HPV infection at some point in their life, experts recommend vaccination against HPV, as it’s very effective. However, the HPV vaccine does not prevent against herpes simplex infections. It also does not prevent other types of maladies sexuellement transmissibles like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Is there a vaccine for cold sores?

At present, no vaccine can prevent herpes simplex infections, though several are in development. Treatment can help manage the symptoms.


The virus that causes cold sores and the virus that causes shingles belong to the same group of viruses. However, the virus that causes shingles does not cause cold sores to develop. Nor does the shingles vaccine prevent an outbreak of cold sores.

Contact a healthcare professional if you develop a rash or blisters on your face or body. A doctor can evaluate you to decide what infection you may have and what treatment is most appropriate.

3 commentaires

  1. The shingles vaccine does not prevent cold sores. Shingles and cold sores are caused by different viruses; shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, while cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Therefore, the shingles vaccine is specifically designed to protect against shingles and will not be effective in preventing cold sores. If you’re concerned about cold sores, you may want to discuss other preventative measures with your healthcare provider.

  2. While the shingles vaccine can help prevent shingles and its complications, it does not prevent cold sores. Shingles and cold sores are caused by different viruses; shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, while cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. If you’re looking to prevent cold sores, you may need to consider other treatments or vaccines specifically targeting the herpes simplex virus.

  3. The shingles vaccine is specifically designed to prevent shingles, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox). Cold sores, on the other hand, are caused by the herpes simplex virus (typically HSV-1). Therefore, the shingles vaccine does not prevent cold sores. If you’re concerned about cold sores, you may want to discuss other preventive measures with your healthcare provider.

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