Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
Supplements And Vitamins For Herpes Outbreaks
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Herpes, whether oral or genital, can be an annoying, frustrating virus. Whether you get frequent outbreaks or have asymptomatic herpes but worry about transmitting the virus to others, herpes can cause a variety of difficult physical and psychological symptoms. These days, the most common drugs used to treat herpes are oral antiviral medications, such as valacyclovir. Weve covered these medications beforein general, they should be your first line of treatment in the event of a herpes outbreak. However, are there alternatives? Weâve all heard the stories about people using supplements and vitamins for herpes outbreaks, but is any of it true?
In this guide, well look at some of the most widely used vitamins and supplements marketed as herpes treatments. Well look at the scientific data behind each supplement and the benefits of each product to help you make informed, effective buying decisions.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
If you have a herpes sore, your dermatologist can often diagnose you by looking at the sore and taking a swab from the sore. A lab test can tell whether the sore contains the herpes simplex virus , which is what causes genital herpes.
If you dont have a sore or any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control doesnt recommend testing for most people. You can learn whether you should be tested if you dont have symptoms at:
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Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
Types Of Antiviral Drugs
There are three oral antivirals recommended for the treatment of oral or genital herpes:
|Famvir, 250 mg||Twice daily|
Preventing genital herpes recurrence is important as it reduces the risk of HIV. According to the CDC, having an active genital herpes infection increases the risk of HIV by 200% to 300%.
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Can You Pop Herpes Blisters
Like pimples, you may be tempted to pop a cold sore or a herpes blister, but by popping, you are only doing more harm. Popping a cold sore, a genital herpes blister, or a pimple increases the risk that you will worsen the existing infection, introduce a secondary infection, or irritate your skin further. Popping can also make it more likely to form a scar.
It is best to leave the pimples or blisters alone to heal on their own, but if they are too uncomfortable or painful, talk to your doctor.
Dont Risk It!
Although you can likely tell herpes sores and pimples apart just by looking at them, a medical diagnosis will let you know for sure.
How To Get Rid Of Herpes The Conventional Way
For most people with herpes, the virus typically represents nothing more than an inconvenience however, the real risk is for immuno-compromised patients who cant easily manage infections. In these patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, herpes simplex infection is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
As of 2017, there is not currently a herpes vaccine available to prevent HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help keep the herpes virus suppressed or to speed up healing of cold sores by reducing bacteria that can cause infections. Some medications that are now used to control herpes include:
- Nucleoside analogues and antiviral medications
- Creams/ointment to help lower pain and inflammation near the site of sores
- Over-the-counter painkillers to reduce aches, tenderness or fever
However, its important to understand that even with early detection and prescription medications, either form of the herpes virus cannot be totally cured so transmission is always still possible. Medications for viruses dont always work long term and are not a cure-all.
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What Are The Complications Of Gonorrhea
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.
In women, gonorrhea can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease . The symptoms may be quite mild or can be very severe and can include abdominal pain and fever 13. PID can lead to internal abscesses and chronic pelvic pain. PID can also damage the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
In men, gonorrhea may be complicated by epididymitis. In rare cases, this may lead to infertility 14.
If left untreated, gonorrhea can also spread to the blood and cause disseminated gonococcal infection . DGI is usually characterized by arthritis, tenosynovitis, and/or dermatitis 15. This condition can be life threatening.
Should I Take Antiviral Pills For My Herpes
Reasons for choosing short course/episodic treatment:
Reasons for choosing suppression/prophylactic/long-term treatment:
See section above for the dosing.
Advertisement:There are now UK-based websites, such as MedExpress, which are authorised by the Care Quality Commission to sell aciclovir for treating genital herpes to diagnosed patients.
Beware: Many other websites advertise fake treatments or even cures. They may include testimonials and statements by people who claim to be doctors. They are scams. Do not be fooled.
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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
People with HSV-2 infection have an increased risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus if they have sex with an HIV-infected partner. Taking suppressive therapy does not decrease this risk.
If a woman is pregnant and infected with HSV, it can be passed to the fetus during birth while passing through the womans infected birth canal. This is most likely to occur if a woman first becomes infected with HSV during pregnancy and in a woman who has her first outbreak late in pregnancy. But it also can occur during a recurrent outbreak in a woman who was infected before pregnancy, although the risk is much lower.
If you have sores or warning signs of an outbreak at the time of delivery, you may need to have a cesarean delivery to reduce chance of infection. The decision depends on many factors, including where the sores are on your body and whether the fetus would come into contact with them during delivery.
Yes, in most cases. The herpes virus cannot be passed to a baby through breast milk. However, the baby could get infected by touching a sore on your body. Make sure any sores that the baby could come into contact with are covered when you hold your baby or while breastfeeding. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after feeding your baby. If you have sores on your breast, you should not breastfeed your baby from that breast.
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How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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What Are The Causes Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the HSV virus, usually during genital or oral sex. It can also be spread through kissing, foreplay or non-penetrative sex.
- HSV1 commonly causes cold sores on the lips or face.
- HSV2 causes most genital herpes.
The HSV virus is most easily spread when there are blisters or sores, but it can still be passed even if a person has no current blisters or sores or other symptoms.
You cannot get genital herpes from things like hugging, swimming pools or toilet seats.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
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Osteoporosis And Physical Performance
Osteoporosis causes bone degeneration in the aging population which puts them more at risk of sustaining a life-altering fracture. Post-menopausal women are a significant risk of developing the bone density problem. L-lysine plays a vital role in the bodys ability to absorb calcium which reduces the risk and damage from osteoporosis.
A diet rich in calcium increases an athletes performance ability. It is not uncommon for athletes to take protein powders that are high in L-lysine to improve their bodys ability to utilize the calcium they are consuming.
How To Manage Herpes Outbreaks
Use plain soap and water. You may be inclined to bombard your newly discovered sores with everything in your medicine cabinet. As with any sores, you do need to be concerned about developing a secondary infection, but soap and water is all you need or want to keep the area sufficiently germ-free.
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Steer Clear Of Ointments
Genital sores need lots of air to heal. Petroleum jelly and antibiotic ointments can block this air and slow the healing process. Never use a cortisone cream, which can inhibit your immune system and actually encourage the virus to grow.
Warm Water Eases The Discomfort
During your primary attack or bad secondary attacks, a warm bath or shower 3 or 4 times a day may provide soothing relief to the genital area.
Use 2 Towels
During an outbreak use a separate towel on your genitals than the one you use on the rest of your body. Wash the towel after each use.
When you get out of the shower or bath, blow dry the genital area with a hair dryer set on low or cool, taking care not to burn yourself. The air from the dryer also proves soothing and may possibly speed up the healing process by helping to dry out the sores.
Wear Loose-Fitting Cotton Underwear
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
Tea Tree Oil And Vitamin E Capsules
Tea tree oil has many uses in the world of home remedies. Apply it directly to genital herpes sores to speed healing. Vitamin E is used frequently as a healing oil. Capsules can be broken open and the oil applied to genital herpes sores. Use an eye dropper to apply both liquids. These natural remedies are both very soothing. We have provided you detail about Relieve Pain if you want to explore your knowledge, look at more info.
IceIce provides pain relief for many injuries and conditions and is very helpful in relieving the discomfort of genital herpes. Apply an ice pack for ten minutes, give a five minute rest period and reapply. The ice pack has a cooling effect and reduces any pain, itching and swelling. For discretion at the office, try slipping an ice pack under your chair cushion.
Salt water, oatmeal and baking sodaTry this soak in the morning before heading to work to keep discomfort at bay. It may seem that salt would irritate genital herpes sores but many patients report the opposite is true. Dissolve ½ cup of any of these home remedies in bath water for a relieving soak. Do not scrub the sores, just let the home remedies do their job.
Please note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. See your physician for diagnoses and treatment of disease.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Oral Herpes And Cold Sores
Cold sores are a symptom of oral herpes .
Cold sores are blister-like sores that occur near the mouth or lips. They can also occur on other areas of the face. They typically persist for 2 weeks or more. Because theres no cure for herpes, cold sores can come back.
Genital herpes is quite common.
Although genital herpes is typically caused by HSV-2, the infection can also be caused by HSV-1.
According to the WHOs latest available statistics, it was estimated that 491.5 million people had an HSV-2 infection in 2016. This is over one-tenth of the worlds population ages 15 to 49 years.
The WHO also estimates that 3.7 billion people had an HSV-1 infection in the same year, which accounts for around two-thirds of the worlds population under age 50 years.
CDC does not recommend getting tested for herpes.
However, if there are symptoms of genital herpes, its important to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis and discuss management strategies for the infection.
Additionally, if theres a potential of having been exposed to HSV, or if theres a desire to get a full STI exam and testing, its recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
If an in-person appointment is not possible, an at-home test kit is another option to consider. However, its important to note that an in-person test done by a doctor may be more accurate.
Treatment can reduce outbreaks, but it cannot cure herpes simplex viruses.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Symptoms of genital herpes often start out very mild. Its easy to mistake them for signs of a small pimple or ingrown hair.
Herpes sores appear as small, red bumps or white blisters. They can pop up in any area of your genitals.
If one of these blisters ruptures, you might notice a painful ulcer forming in its place. It may ooze fluid or cause you pain when urinating.
As the ulcer heals, itll form a scab. Resist the urge to pick at the scab, which will only irritate the area more. When an ulcer heals, a scab will form. Its important not to pick at or irritate a herpes sore.
Other potential symptoms include:
Genital herpes has no cure, but there are treatments that can help control symptoms.
Genital herpes doesnt always cause symptoms. You may not even know you have herpes until you pass it to someone else or get tested.
If youve had herpes in the past and are following a treatment plan, youll have periods of time without any symptoms. These are known as latent periods.
But this doesnt mean you no longer have the virus. And you can still pass the virus to others during a latent period, thought, though the risk is lower.
Whats The Outlook For Someone With Either Condition
You can easily treat genital pimples at home. But if they dont go away in a week or more, see your doctor in case another condition is causing your pimples to appear.
Herpes cant be cured, but it can be successfully managed with prescription antibiotics and OTC pain relievers. Researchers are working to find a cure or vaccine.
Pimples can appear suddenly for a number of reasons, so its hard to fully prevent them. Keeping the area clean with a gentle cleanser is usually sufficient.
You can take quick, easy action each time you have sex to prevent yourself from getting herpes.
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