Genital herpes affects more than 10 percent of the population in the United States. Genital herpes is spread through sexual intercourse. It is mostly caused by the herpes simplex virus type two, although it can also be caused by herpes simplex virus type 1, the cause of oral herpes or cold herpes.
Common symptoms of genital herpes include pain, itching, and sores in the genital area. It affects both men and women. Unfortunately, once contracted, genital herpes is for life. However, more often than not, it is dormant, so it doesn’t pose a huge hindrance. Frequency and intensity of outbreaks differs from person to person. In certain cases, outbreaks are as frequent as monthly while in others it may only occur once in a year.
It is imperative to note that herpes is extremely contagious, even in its preliminary stage. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain suitable hygiene, refrain from sexual contact, and avoid sharing towels or any such clothing that might carry the virus.
While there are several treatments for this disease, none of them offers any cure. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and decreasing the frequency of outbreaks. There are several alternative treatments that can help you to deal with your symptoms during outbreaks. It is important to remember that these treatments might not be effective in all individuals with genital herpes.
These treatments only improve symptoms and do not cure genital herpes. Alternative treatments for genital herpes may include:
Cold or hot compresses. Using these compresses can help to decrease pain. Avoid exposing the affected areas to ice for long periods, as ice can damage tissues if it is used for long periods.
Warm water baths. Showers or baths with warm water are said to alleviate the pain caused by sores. Ensure the affected area is dried thoroughly post-bath, as moisture can prolong sores.
Painkillers. Using over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain management.
Using cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture easily as compared to other synthetic fabrics. This is important since the skin should be kept dry to decrease discomfort.
Baking soda. You can also apply baking soda to your sores. Baking soda absorbs fluid from the sores and thus helps to keep the skin dry. Do not use the same cotton ball twice to prevent contamination. Often cornstarch is recommended as an alternative to baking soda. However, it is best avoided, as it increases the tendency for bacteria to breed, and this may result in infection.
Olive oil. Applying olive oil to your sores will improve the healing process, since olive oil is an antioxidant.
Using an extract of Echinacea plant. This herb has been shown to boost the immune system, and it helps to decrease the frequency and severity of recurrent infections. Echinacea can be taken with tea on a daily basis.
Propolis. Using ointments that contain propolis, a wax that is produced by honeybees, may reduce the symptoms of genital herpes. Propolis can be applied directly on the skin and helps sores to heal faster. It also has antiviral properties, so it will prevent infections from arising.
Prunella valgaris and Rozites caperata. Using Prunella valgaris or eating Rozites caperata, an edible mushroom, may also increase the speed at which sores heal.
Lemon balm. Using ointments that contain lemon balm can help to reduce pain, itching, and discomfort associated with genital herpes. Lemon balm can be taken as a tea and can also be applied to the affected area.
Raw Honey. Apply raw honey to the open sores at least 3 times daily. This not only improves the healing time but also reduces the occurrence of outbreaks. Honey helps to draw fluid from sores and thus keeps the skin dry, a desirable effect in people who have sores. You could also bath in honey. One advantage of using honey over certain medications is that there are no side effects. Do not use processed honey, as it is more likely to increase infection.
Other alternative treatments for genital herpes include:
- Aloe Vera, helps to relieve itching and redness associated with genital herpes.
- Vitamin C
- St Johns wort, an herb that has been shown to inhibit he replication of herpes simplex virus
- Lysine, an amino acid that may reduce the duration of symptoms during an outbreak. Lysine should not be taken for more than 3 weeks, since it has been associated with raising the level of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Other than natural remedies, food and lifestyle changes are highly recommended.
Living a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, can also help to reduce the number of outbreaks of genital herpes. Because stress has been linked to outbreaks of genital herpes, reducing stress can reduce the frequency of outbreaks.
Make a conscious effort to eat foods that heal and thwart outbreaks, and stay away from food that fosters growth. Increase your intake of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and beans, dairy products like yogurt, lean meats, and fruits, like apples and cranberries. Minimize or avoid foods that are acidic in nature, as they weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to viral infections. Limit or avoid sugar, junk food, alcohol, and caffeine.
Following a regular physical regime not only boosts the immune system but also aids in relieving stress. Don’t strain yourself with intense activity; it is recommended that a mild and simple form of exercise, like cycling or brisk walks, is helpful.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Ensure you don’t sleep too much or sleep too little. Give your body enough time to rest and recuperate.
Trying relaxation techniques, such as breathing and meditation, can prove to be beneficial in the treatment of genital herpes.
Maintaining personal hygiene plays a crucial role in minimizing recurrences and also aids in healing outbreaks. Bathe at least once a day, if not twice, and ensure you wash your hands often.
Genital herpes may be inconvenient, painful, and embarrassing, but it is not life threatening. Even though it is not possible to cure herpes, with proper care and treatment, outbreaks can be reduced to a minimum.
- There are several alternative treatments that can help you to deal with your symptoms during outbreaks.
- These treatments only improve symptoms and do not cure genital herpes.
- Living a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, can also help to reduce the number of outbreaks of genital herpes.