Diet And Lifestyle Changes For Herpes Management
In addition to using medications, supplements, and topical treatments, it is possible to limit the frequency of herpes flare-ups with practical diet and lifestyle choices. While none of these options will have dramatic effects on your symptoms, they will help keep your body in balance and eliminate some of the stressors and triggers that precede most herpes outbreaks.
As mentioned earlier, two amino acids lysine and argenine have an effect on the herpes virus. Argenine is part of the viral growth and replication process, so its wise to limit the amount of argenine present in your diet, especially during an active herpes outbreak. High argenine foods to avoid include chocolate and coffee, nuts, seeds, and raisins, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, lentils, brown rice, and coconut. You might also want to stop eating citrus fruits during a flare-up, as citric acid can be irritating to sores on the lips and mouth.
On the other hand, lysine inhibits the functioning of argenine, thereby reducing viral replication so its a good idea to eat more foods that are high in lysine. To increase the amount of lysine in your diet, eat more cheese and egg yolks, chicken, fish, and beef, milk, yogurt, and cheese, brewers yeast, mango, papaya, apricot, avocado, apple, and sprouts. While not especially high in lysine, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli all contain large amounts of indole-3-carbinol, which may also be useful in suppressing the herpes virus.
What If I Am Pregnant
It is important to tell your obstetrician that you or a partner have had genital herpes, so that they can monitor you for symptoms and manage your pregnancy safely. There is a risk you can pass the virus on to your baby if you have a vaginal delivery during a first attack of genital herpes. If this happens you may be recommended to have a caesarean delivery.
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How Can I Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.
Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.
No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.
Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years whether or not you get treated.
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Suppressive Therapy For Recurrent Hsv
Suppressive therapy reduces frequency of genital herpes recurrences by 70%80% among patients who have frequent recurrences . Persons receiving such therapy often report having experienced no symptomatic outbreaks. Suppressive therapy also is effective for patients with less frequent recurrences. Long-term safety and efficacy have been documented among patients receiving daily acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir . Quality of life is improved for many patients with frequent recurrences who receive suppressive therapy rather than episodic treatment . Providers should discuss with patients on an annual basis whether they want to continue suppressive therapy because frequency of genital HSV-2 recurrence diminishes over time for many persons. However, neither treatment discontinuation nor laboratory monitoring is necessary because adverse events and development of HSV antiviral resistance related to long-term antiviral use are uncommon.
Valacyclovir 500 mg orally 2 times/day for 3 daysOR
Valacyclovir 1 gm orally once daily for 5 days
*Acyclovir 400 mg orally 3 times/day is also effective, but are not recommended because of frequency of dosing.
Dos And Donts For Herpes Outbreaks
With oral herpes outbreaks, avoid irritating the inflamed area any further. Eat bland, healthy foods while avoiding salty, sour, acidic and spicy foods.
Switch to a softer toothbrush to avoid irritating your lips and gums. For genital herpes outbreaks, air drying speeds healing.
Try to wear loose fitting clothes and breathable cotton underwear. Wash sores gently and dry them, but do not bandage them tightly afterward.
Never pick at or open up herpes sores, as this can worsen the infection and and even spread the infection to other parts of your body.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Overnight
Unfortunately, it is impossible to get rid of the symptoms of a herpes outbreak overnight. Whilst there are genital herpes treatments designed to reduce the duration and severity of recurrences, no products exist that can eliminate the outbreak entirely within one day .
Medical intervention â along with homeopathic remedies â can reduce the discomfort, pain and length of a flare-up.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
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When To Call A Doctor
Check in with your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice or experience any of the following:
- Worsening outbreak symptoms in spite of medicine or proper management
- Sores that do not heal after 2-4 weeks
- Frequent outbreaks
- An outbreak during pregnancy
If you have never had genital herpes before, see a medical provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
Subsequent outbreaks of herpes do not always require medical care unless you notice any complications, problems healing, or become pregnant.
While there is no cure for genital herpes, a medical provider can recommend OTC and other treatments that may speed the healing time of sores, reduce the frequency of outbreaks, and relieve discomfort.
Genital herpes may feel like an embarrassing problem, but you deserve to be comfortable.
A medical doctor will not shame you, but will help you to get proper care and find relief.
You can even chat with a K Health doctor right in the app, without leaving your home.
Antiviral Medicine Can Be Taken Daily
For some people, taking an antiviral medicine every day works best because they have:
A partner who doesnt have the virus
Even if you treat an outbreak, you can have new outbreaks. Some people have several outbreaks a year. If you have six or more outbreaks a year, your dermatologist may recommend taking an antiviral medicine every day.
Taken daily, this medicine can reduce how often you have an outbreak. Studies show its safe to take daily and can reduce outbreaks by 70% to 80%.
A partner who doesnt have the virus
If your partner doesnt have the virus that causes genital herpes, taking an antiviral medicine every day can decrease the risk of passing the virus to your sexual partner.
Even when taking medicine, you can still give your partner the virus. You can reduce this risk by skipping sex when you have sores and wearing a condom when you dont.
If you decide to take medicine daily, youll likely take it every day for at least one year. At the end of one year, your dermatologist should re-evaluate you to see if you still need to take an antiviral every day.
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Home Care Measures For Genital Herpes
First, simple self-care may be enough to relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain of herpes symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend soaking the affected area in warm water. But the area should be kept dry most of the time. If toweling off after bathing is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer. Then put on cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture better than synthetic fabric does.
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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Treating Swollen Lips From Allergic Reactions
If you have swollen, red and itchy lips for no reason, it could be caused by allergies. Avoid contact with allergens e.g. some foods that cause the allergy, pet dander, latex, lip care products some medications, pollen grains, etc.
Secondly, reduce lip swelling from allergies, ensure you get an antihistamine such as benadryl to reduce the allergic reaction as well as apply cold compresses. For excessive swelling, you might be required to take oral corticosteroids for fast action.
If you suffer from an extreme allergic reaction, that will have other severe symptoms other than the lip swelling, see a doctor since some allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis allergy is life threatening and it can cause death.
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Avoid Sex During Outbreaks
Although its unlikely that youre going to want to be intimate during an outbreak, its important to know that this is the time when the virus is most active and most likely to be transmissible, Wait until all your symptoms go away, including any sores, itching, and tingling.
If you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. Sexual lubrication is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
Sores in other areas, such as the buttocks and thighs, can be just as contagious as those in the genital area, and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with such sores during sex.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Frequent Herpes Recurrences
There is no need to change your lifestyle or take steps to prevent recurrences until you know whether or not you are going to get any. You will see plenty of internet sites offering dubious treatments that are unnecessary and probably have no effect for treating herpes.
These suggestions to help control outbreaks come from people with genital herpes, based on their own experiences. The HVA cannot confirm that any of them will work for you, but we believe they are worth considering:
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Pregnant Women
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, there may be a risk of your baby being infected with the virus during delivery. This condition is called neonatal herpes and can be serious or fatal.
Neonatal herpes can result in damage to the central nervous system and can cause mental retardation. Only about 0.1% of babies born in the United States are infected with neonatal herpes even though about 25% to 30% of pregnant women have genital herpes.
Generally, if you are infected with herpes, your doctor will deliver your baby by cesarean section to avoid any risk to your newborn infant.
Women who have herpes before becoming pregnant are at very low risk of transmitting the herpes virus to their babies. If a woman is infected with the herpes virus after becoming pregnant, her baby faces a higher risk of contracting neonatal herpes. Women who are newly infected havent had time to develop the antibodies against the virus and cannot pass them on to the baby for protection.
Talk with your OB/GYN and let them know if you have genital herpes. At the time of your delivery, ask your doctor to examine you early in labor to make sure you dont have any sores or signs of infection like pain, tingling, or itching.
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Are There Side Effects From Treating Genital Herpes With Antiviral Drugs
Antiviral drugs are very well-tolerated by most people because they target the virus, not healthy cells. Side effects are rare. Specialist guidelines state that regular kidney function tests for people taking aciclovir long-term are no longer required. The drug has now been used for without problem for over thirty years treating genital herpes. It can be used in pregnancy, indeed it is even recommended that women take it from week 36. See our pregnancy page.
Simple Treatments For The Relief Of Discomfort
- Wear loose underclothes, preferably cotton , to help minimise discomfort and allow healing.
- Use plain water or saline solution with cotton wool to clean and soothe the area. To make a saline solution, use 1 teaspoon of salt in 600ml of water or a handful of salt in a shallow bath.
- Dont use scented soaps, bubble bath, etc in the area, as these may irritate it.
- Using a hairdryer on its lowest setting to dry the area may be more comfortable than using a towel.
- Pain relief medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may ease the pain. Check with your pharmacist or other health professional whether taking these is suitable for you.
- Ice wrapped in a face cloth or flannel and placed over the sores for 510 minutes may be soothing. Dont apply ice directly to the sores as this can cause ice burn.
- If you find peeing painful, try applying Vaseline® to the area or sitting in a warm bath before urinating or using a pump bottle full of water and spraying water on yourself while peeing.
- You can also try applying a pain relief cream such as lignocaine cream to the painful area. This is applied 5 minutes before peeing and should be used for a maximum of 12 days.
- Drink plenty of fluids as this dilutes your pee and may help reduce stinging.
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Can You Get Herpes On Your Tongue
While you may associate herpes type 1 with cold sores on your lips, it is possible to suffer from the symptoms of herpes on your tongue. This is referred to as oral herpes and usually affects more of your mouth than just your tongue. More than half of all adults in the United States are thought to have oral herpes.
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Facts And Statistics About Herpes
- According to the World Health Organization, an estimated two-thirds of the global population under 50 years old are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 .
- Estimates for HSV-1 prevalence in the U.S. among people aged 049 years are 178 million women and 142 million men .
- In total, about 75 percent or more of the American adult population has the HSV-1 virus that usually causes oral herpes , and about 20 percent to 30 percent have HSV-2 that usually causes genital herpes.
- Men and women are affected by HSV-1 about equally. Roughly 6 million women in the U.S. become infected with HSV-1 each year, along with 5 million men.
- Slightly more women than men are affected by genital herpes, whether from HSV-1 or HSV-2. Middle-aged women are most likely to acquire genital herpes.
- Transmission of HSV most often occurs without symptoms, so its estimated that 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont know it. Many dont have any symptoms at all after the initial infection, and only about 15 percent ever receive a HSV-2 infection diagnosis in their lifetimes.
- Most primary oral/facial HSV infections are caused by HSV-1 however, facial infection by HSV-2 is increasingly becoming common.
- Less children are becoming infected with HSV-1 than in the past in high-income countries, mostly due to better hygiene and living conditions.
- After someone comes into contact with an active herpes outbreak on another person, the incubation period takes about one week.
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