Herpes is a highly contagious viral infection which shows up as oral herpes (cold sores) or genital herpes (blisters in the genital/anal areas). Topical application of vit. E and lemon balm on cold sores can help relieve the burning sensation. Also, frequent baths with a sol. of warm water, 2c ground oatmeal, 1/2c baking soda can help soothe your genitals.
Herpes is a highly contagious, incurable infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Once you contract it, the virus is present in your body lifelong and can keep rearing its head. Today, herpes is one of the most rampant and common infections worldwide. According to World Health Organization estimates, globally, about 67 percent of people below the age of 50 have oral herpes while about 11 percent of those between 15 and 49 have genital herpes.1
While oral herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) which infects the mouth or facial area and causes cold sores, genital herpes can be traced to the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).2These viruses belong to a family that also causes other diseases like shingles and roseola. 3
The Spread Of Herpes
Herpes is transmitted easily through direct contact – genital herpes via sexual contact and oral herpes through oral contact, say kissing. In many cases, those infected don’t have any symptoms. In fact, many people with herpes don’t even know that they have it. But remember, even those with no obvious symptoms can pass on the infection. The condition is, however, most contagious when symptoms are present. The most common symptom is painful blisters in the affected area – people with genital herpes may have blisters in the genital or anal areas, while oral herpes causes cold sores, tiny blisters that form on your lips or around the mouth.4
How Can You Reduce The Risk Of Infection?
Steer clear of oral contact with people who have oral herpes. Also, avoid sharing things that might have come in contact with saliva (for example, lipstick).
- Abstain from sexual activity with someone who has genital herpes. Using condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes, but do keep in mind that an outbreak can still happen in parts that are not covered by the condom.5
Can Herpes Cause Complications?
Herpes rarely causes complications in healthy adults. You may, however, have recurrent episodes of herpes and some may be quite painful. People with weakened immunity are at high risk of complications, though.
- HSV-2 and HIV have an unhealthy relationship. HSV-2 can raise the chances of getting an HIV infection, if exposed to it, by about three-fold. HIV also tends to be more infectious in someone with herpes.6
- Very rarely, expectant mothers with genital herpes can pass it on to the baby.7
- In some cases, oral herpes can spread to other parts of the body like the brain (encephalitis), hands (whitlow finger), or eyes (herpetic keratoconjunctivitis).8
How Do You Treat It?
There’s no cure for herpes, but your doctor may prescribe anti-viral medication that helps to address the symptoms. Factors like exposure to bright sunlight, stress, fatigue, and even menstruation have been found to trigger oral herpes in some people.9 Avoiding a trigger, where possible, can be useful.
- Amino Acids: The two naturally occurring amino acids arginine and lysine have a role to play in a herpes infection. While arginine promotes the growth of HSV, lysine can block this action.10 Increasing the amount of lysine you consume and limiting arginine-rich food can reduce the frequency of recurrences of the infection.11 Meats such as beef, lamb, fish, and chicken; vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, beans, Brussel sprouts, beets, and potatoes; dairy products such as yogurt and cheese; fruits such as apples, figs, pears, and apricots are all good sources of lysine and can reduce your chances of another outbreak. Also avoid high-arginine foods like nuts and seeds, wheat products, lentils, chocolate, and soy foods.
- Vitamin E: Topical application of vitamin E on cold sores has been found to help lesions heal more rapidly as well as give pain relief.12
- Lemon Balm: Oils found in lemon can inhibit the replication of HSV-2.13 A study among people with a history of recurrent herpes found that a balm containing the extract of lemon leaves shortened the healing time for an episode of herpes. It also prevented the spread of the infection and improved symptoms like itching, burning, tingling, and swelling.14
- Bee Glue: Bee glue or propolis, a resin that bees make and use for constructing hives, is rich in flavonoids. A study that compared an ointment with propolin to one with the antiviral drug acyclovir found the former to be more effective at healing genital lesions caused by herpes.15
- Licorice: Glycyrrhizin, an antioxidant found in licorice, is capable of inactivating the herpes virus. 16 A study on mice with herpetic encephalitis also found that it increased their survival rate by about two and a half times.17
- Warm Baths: Some people with genital herpes may find it soothing to sit in a warm bath up to the hips. Frequent baths can also relieve itching. Adding about two cups of ground oatmeal or half a cup of baking soda to the bath water can be especially helpful.18
References [ + ]
|1, 4, 5, 6.||↑||Herpes simplex virus, World Health Organization. 2016.|
|2, 7.||↑||Genital Herpes Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|3.||↑||Pommerville, Jeffrey. Alcamo’s fundamentals of microbiology: Body systems. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2012.|
|8, 9.||↑||Cold sore (herpes simplex virus) – Causes, National Health Service.2016.|
|10.||↑||Gaby, Alan R. “Natural remedies for Herpes simplex.” Alternative medicine review 11, no. 2 (2006): 93.|
|11.||↑||Griffith, R. S., A. L. Norins, and Ch Kagan. “A multicentered study of lysine therapy in herpes simplex infection.” Dermatology 156, no. 5 (1978): 257-267.|
|12.||↑||Fink, M., and J. Fink. “TREATMENT OF HERPES-SIMPLEX BY ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (VITAMIN-E).” BRITISH DENTAL JOURNAL 148, no. 11-1 (1980): 246-246.|
|13.||↑||Allahverdiyev, A., N. Duran, M. Ozguven, and S. Koltas. “Antiviral activity of the volatile oils of Melissa officinalis L. against Herpes simplex virus type-2.” Phytomedicine 11, no. 7 (2004): 657-661.|
|14.||↑||Koytchev, R., R. G. Alken, and S. Dundarov. “Balm mint extract (Lo-701) for topical treatment of recurring herpes labialis.” Phytomedicine 6, no. 4 (1999): 225-230.|
|15.||↑||Vynograd, N., I. Vynograd, and Z. Sosnowski. “A comparative multi-centre study of the efficacy of propolis, acyclovir and placebo in the treatment of genital herpes (HSV).” Phytomedicine 7, no. 1 (2000): 1-6.|
|16.||↑||Pompei, Raffaello, Ornella Flore, Maria Antonietta Marccialis, Alessandra Pani, and Bernardo Loddo. “Glycyrrhizic acid inhibits virus growth and inactivates virus particles.” Nature 28, no. 25 (1979): 689-690.|
|17.||↑||Sekizawa, T., K. Yanagi, and Y. Itoyama. “Glycyrrhizin increases survival of mice with herpes simplex encephalitis.” Acta virologica 45, no. 1 (2001): 51-54.|
|18.||↑||Standard, Natural, and Catherine Ulbricht. Natural Standard Medical Conditions Reference: An Integrative Approach. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2009.|