Today herpes is a fairly common and contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by the herpes simplex virus, or HSV. The virus takes two forms, HSV-1 or oral herpes, and HSV-2 or genital herpes, and is transmitted by interpersonal interactions that involve the exchange of bodily fluids. Transmission of the HSV-1 virus can be as simple as a kiss or sharing lip balm; where the HSV-2 virus requires more intimate contact such as sexual intercourse or oral sex.
In the United States, one in every six Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 carry the herpes virus according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these people who carry the virus are unaware that they contracted herpes and are now possibly infecting others. Because herpes outbreaks many not always be visible, it is important to be aware of the common herpes outbreak symptoms.
The common signs of a herpes outbreak include blisters or sores around the lips, inside the mouth, or around the genitals, redness, pain and itching around the sores, and pain during urination in the case of genital herpes. During the first outbreak of herpes these symptoms may be more pronounced or last longer, possibly up to ten days. For subsequent outbreaks, the sore may be smaller and last for only a few days. Other symptoms, especially for an initial outbreak, may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, overall tiredness, and lack of appetite. Many people exhibit no outward signs when they are experiencing a herpes outbreak which greatly increases the risk of spreading the disease
There is no cure for the herpes virus. Herpes outbreaks do not occur on predictable schedules and may be triggered by stress, menstrual cycles, illness, or excessive sun exposure. Regardless of when one occurs, there are many tips and techniques for managing a herpes outbreak and protecting partners during the period of being contagious. Following are some effective tips to manage a herpes outbreak.
- Avoid physical contact – refrain from any physical contact with other from the first onset of symptoms, and avoid touching sores
- Wash hands – frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water throughout the day
- Maintain a healthy diet – a strong immune system helps keep outbreaks under control. A well-nourished body has a strong immune system to fight off diseases and viruses. Reduce the intake of sugar and eliminate excessive alcohol consumption.
- Drink water – drinking plenty of water helps flush the body, removing toxins and improving health
- Dietary supplements – take these to provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs. L-lysine may help the healing time for the sores and prevent future outbreaks
- Get plenty of sleep – sleep restores and reenergizes your body
- Reduce stress – stress, both mental and physical, adds stress to your body and taxes the immune system
- Exercise daily – regular exercise, a minimum of thirty minutes per day, reduces stress and builds the immune system
- Medicinal treatments – medicines are available to minimize sores and limit the length and frequency of outbreaks. These are available as a prescription from your doctor.
- Positive attitude – maintaining a positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life reduces stress and puts everything in a positive space
Living a full and rewarding life with the herpes virus is easy using the tips and precautions outlined above. There are many organizations that offer userful information and support for people with STDs. Click here to view these STD / herpes support sites.