Herpes simplex is a viral infection that usually affects your mouth and genital area. There are two principal types of herpes simplex: herpes simplex virus Type 1, or HSV-1, and herpes simplex virus 2, or HSV-2. HSV-1 is the most common herpes simplex virus, and many people develop it during childhood. HSV-2 is usually, but not always, sexually transmitted.
Common Signs And Symptoms Associated With Herpes Simplex Include:
- Blisters on Your Mouth
- Ulcers on Your Mouth
- Blisters or Ulcers on Your Lips
- On Your Gums
- On Your Genitals
- Enlarged Neck and Groin Lymph Nodes
- Fever Blisters
Several simple steps can produce some relief:
- Hygiene is important. Avoid touching the sores. Wash hands frequently during the day. Fingernails should be scrubbed daily. Keep the body clean.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep blisters or sores clean and dry with cornstarch or similar product. (Women should not use talcum powder because it may increase their risk for ovarian cancer.)
- Some people report that drying the genital area with a blow dryer on the cool setting offers relief.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing, which restricts air circulation and slows healing of the sores.
- Choose cotton underwear, rather than synthetic materials.
- Local application of ice packs may alleviate the pain and help reduce recurrences by suppressing the virus.
- Lukewarm baths may be helpful.
- Wearing sun block helps prevent sun-triggered recurrence of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).
- Avoid sex during both outbreaks and prodromes (the early symptoms of herpes), when signs include tingling, itching, or tenderness in the infected areas.
- Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can be used to reduce fever and local tenderness.
HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS
Generally, manufacturers of herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not need FDA approval to sell their products. Just like a drug, herbs and supplements can affect the body’s chemistry and therefore have the potential to produce side effects that may be harmful. There have been several reported cases of serious and even lethal side effects from herbal products. Always check with your doctor before using any herbal remedies or dietary supplements.
Many herbal and dietary supplement products claim to help fight herpes infection by boosting the immune system. There has been little research on these products, and little evidence to show that they really work. Some are capsules taken by mouth. Others come in the form of ointment that is applied to the skin. Popular herbal and supplement remedies for herpes simplex include:
- Echinacea ( Echinacea purpurea )
- Siberian ginseng ( Eleutherococcus senticosus )
- Aloe ( Aloe vera )
- Bee products that contain propolis, a tree resin collected by bees
- Vitamin C
- Topical lithium succinate
- Topical vitamin E
The following are special concerns for people taking natural remedies for herpes simplex:
- Echinacea can lower white blood cell levels when taken for long periods of time. This herb can also interfere with drugs that are used to treat immune system disorders.
- Siberian ginseng can raise blood pressure levels.
- Bee products (like propolis) can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to bee stings.
- Lysine should not be taken with certain types of antibiotics.
- Taking zinc in large amounts (more than 200 mg/day) can cause stomach upset.