Someone you know probably has herpes. It's a highly contagious virus with no cure. Fifty to 80 percent of Americans get cold sores, which are caused by herpes simplex type 1 1. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in six people aged 14 to 49 have genital herpes, which is caused by herpes simplex type 2.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Luckily, there are home remedies to help with herpes outbreaks. Most importantly, you need to live a healthy lifestyle.
Tea bags have been used to treat inflammation and irritation for years. They can also be used to ease the pain and inflammation caused by herpes outbreaks. Simply steep the tea bag for a minute and let it cool. Use the cool tea bag as a compress on the affected area.
- Tea bags have been used to treat inflammation and irritation for years.
- Use the cool tea bag as a compress on the affected area.
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An ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables can be placed on an area where you're starting to get a herpes outbreak. The cold temperature helps reduce inflammation and may also inhibit the virus.
Aloe vera is an ancient remedy that is used to treat herpes outbreaks. You can buy aloe vera gel or grow your own aloe plant. The gel can be placed on outbreaks to soothe itching and aid in the healing process.
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If you have herpes in your genital area, make a bath of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and warm water. Soak in the bath to soothe and help heal your herpes outbreak.
Essential oils such as tea tree oil can be dabbed lightly on a herpes outbreak a few times a day. Tea tree oil is an antiseptic that will help kill germs and keep the area clean. Vitamin E oil, rose hips and olive leaf oil are also helpful in healing the skin after a herpes outbreak.
There are many herbs that can be taken as supplements at home to help herpes outbreaks 1. Some examples are astragalus, licorice root, red marine algae, spirulina, goldenseal, cat's claw and St. John's wort.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
A healthy diet for herpes outbreaks should include fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean protein. Choose foods that are high in lysine, an amino acid that helps control herpes outbreaks. Foods high in lysine include beef, chicken, yogurt and cheese. You can also take lysine in the form of a supplement.
Caffeine and alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
A healthy lifestyle includes keeping your stress level down and getting adequate rest.
- A healthy diet for herpes outbreaks should include fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean protein.
- Foods high in lysine include beef, chicken, yogurt and cheese.
Baking Soda and Cornstarch
Baking soda can be applied to herpes outbreaks with a damp Q-Tip or cottonball. It will help dry and heal the area, and may help it stop itching. Cornstarch can be used the same way.
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- Herpes-Cold Sores: Herbs for Herpes
- Herpes: Nutrition
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Fourth Edition"; Phyllis Balch; 2006
- McQuillan G, Kruszon-Moran D, Flagg EW, Paulose-Ram R. Prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in persons aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2018;304.
- Tronstein E. Genital Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Among Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Persons With HSV-2 Infection. JAMA. 2011;305(14):1441. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.420
- World Health Organization (WHO). Herpes simplex virus. Updated January 31, 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Updated January 31, 2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. Updated August 28, 2017.
- Chun H, Carpenter R, Macalino G, Crum-Cianflone NF. The role of sexually transmitted infections in HIV-1 progression: A comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2012;2013(176459):1-15. doi:10.1155/2013/176459
- Heslop R, Roberts H, Flower D, Jordan V. Interventions for men and women with their first episode of genital herpes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Aug 30;(8):CD010684. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010684.pub2
- Jin F, Prestage GP, Mao L, Kippax SC, Pell CM, et al. Transmission of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in a prospective cohort of HIV-negative gay men: the health in men study. J Infect Dis. 2006 Sep 1;194(5):561-70.
- Schulte JM, Bellamy AR, Hook EW 3rd, Bernstein DI, Levin MJ, et al. HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence in the united states among asymptomatic women unaware of any herpes simplex virus infection (Herpevac Trial for Women). South Med J. 2014 Feb;107(2):79-84. doi:10.1097/SMJ.0000000000000062
Vicki L. VanArsdale is a freelance writer with a B.A. in communications from Rowan University and an A.A.S. in print and broadcast journalism from Ocean County College. She is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and a nutrition and wellness consultant through American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA).