What is Herpes ?
Herpes simplex (Ancient Greek: ??p?? – herpes, lit. "creeping")
is a viral disease caused by both Herpes simplex virus type 1
(HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Infection with the herpes virus is
categorized into one of several distinct disorders based on the
site of infection. Herpes viruses cycle between periods of
active disease—presenting as blisters containing infectious
virus particles—that last 2–21 days, followed by a remission
period. After initial infection, the viruses are transported
along sensory nerves to the sensory nerve cell bodies, where
they become latent and reside life-long. Causes of recurrence
are uncertain, though some potential triggers have been
identified. A cure for herpes has not yet been developed. Once
infected, the virus remains in the body for life.
The cause for the herpes condition is because of a viral infection that is picked up through personal or very often through sexual contact. The virus usually enters your body through a break in your skin, like a cut or a wound. However, it is also possible for the virus to gain entry into a person’s body through the skin of the mouth, vagina, penis, anus and cervix.
- Unfortunately, a woman who is infected with herpes can also pass the virus on to her baby, during the delivery process.
- Chickenpox, which is caused by the Herpes Zoster Virus is a very contagious condition and spreads quickly from one person to another. This condition occurs because of direct contact with a person who is already infected, or from inhaling any infected droplets that have been dispersed into the air.
- The same virus that causes chickenpox can also lead to shingles. In fact, people who suffer from chickenpox are prone to shingles, which is nothing but a relapse of the condition. The most common factor that triggers off this relapse is a weakened immune system.
What is worrying about the herpes infection is that many of those who are infected with the virus remain blissfully unaware of it, mainly because the symptoms are fairly mild and go unnoticed. Moreover, the symptoms that are associated with different conditions caused by the herpes simplex virus are bound to vary.
Genital Herpes Symptoms:
- Pain and itchiness in the genital area
- Appearance of small red bumps or white blisters, which could rupture or turn into bleeding ulcers
- Formation of scabs on the affected area of the skin
- Sores that erupt mainly on the vaginal area, anus, cervix or buttock in women and in case of men, on the penis, buttocks, scrotum, anus and thighs
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Swollen nymph nodes in the groin area
Cold Sores Symptoms:
- Blisters on the lips or around the mouth
- Difficulty in speaking, eating and swallowing because of the sores
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in the throat and neck
- Drooling (in case of children)
It is more common for cold sores to appear on or around the lips, but in some cases, they can also be seen on the chin, nostrils and fingers. It is also likely for cold sores to appear on the inside of the mouth, mainly on the gums, the underside of the tongue, the inside of the cheek and the roof of the mouth.
Herpes Tips :
- Use an ice pack to help alleviate pain and swelling, and take a hot bath (with a pinch of baking soda) to help reduce itching.
- Keep the affected area dry and clean.
- Avoid sexual intimacy until blisters have completely healed, and when the virus is dormant, always use a condom to reduce the chance of your partner contracting the virus.
- Avoid touching, rubbing or scratching the sores and wash your hands immediately after contact with them to prevent the infection spreading to other areas or other people.
- Boost the immune system with daily exercise, sufficient sleep and a healthy balanced diet.
- Reduce stress levels and take care of your emotional well-being. Consider counseling or stress management if you struggle to do this alone.
- Increase vitamin C intake during outbreaks.
- Consider taking supplements of the amino acid L-lysine, zinc, and garlic.
- Make note of the 'trigger' foods that sometimes lead to outbreaks. Avoid spicy and acidic foods as well as foods high in salt when you have an outbreak.
Herpes Home Remedies:
- Ice: This is one of the best remedies to soothe most skin problems, including the itchiness, pain and discomfort caused by herpes. Apply an ice pack directly on to the affected area for at least 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This remedy should be used at least 3 or 4 times a day.
- Tea Bags: Black tea leaves contain a high amount of tannins, which are believed to have antiviral as well as antibacterial properties. Use a tea bag to make some tea like you normally would and then cool it in a refrigerator for a while. Apply the cold tea bags directly on to the affected skin and hold it there for around five minutes or so. This exercise should be repeated around 3 or 4 times a day, each time with a fresh tea bag
- Baking Soda: There are innumerable benefits associated with this old remedy, as it relieves itching and helps dry the sores. Take a damp piece of cotton and coat it with some baking soda, before applying it directly to the affected area. Corn starch can also be used in the same way
- Aloe Vera: This remedy is excellent for soothing an itch and for healing the skin after a herpes outbreak. However, using products that contain Aloe Vera is not half as effective as using natural gel that has been extracted directly from the leaf.
- Essential Oils: In order to prevent the sores from leaving a permanent mark on your skin, you could use Vitamin E oil on them. A combination of other essential oils can also be used for the same purpose. You could add a drop or two of essential oils like olive leaf, calendula, rose hip, golden camellia and jojoba to other oils or water and apply it on to your skin.
It is important to note that these remedies help relieve the discomfort caused by the condition. Herpes cannot be treated by any of them. Moreover, it is best to check with a doctor before using any home remedies for herpes.