Published: 10/20/2015 - Updated: 12/27/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, or an STD. It can be caused by the Herpes simplex type 1 virus, and type 2. The first type is also known medically as HSV-1, which is the same virus that causes herpes on the lips, face, etc. Type 2 herpes virus is contracted by the strain HSV-2, commonly affecting the skin and mucous membranes of the genitals. However, recent studies confirm that any of these two types can affect any type of the body, from the mouth to the genitals, even though these are two different viruses.
This STD is also known as the genital herpes virus, contracted by unprotected sex, with vaginal penetration, or anal or oral sex. This virus can also be contracted not only by coming into contact with the affected area – although there may not always be visible signs of an outbreak – but also through touching sex toys or through sexual stimulation.
What are the primary symptoms for Genital Herpes?
Herpes symptoms generally appear within two weeks and 20 days after unprotected sex, or after having been exposed to it. The first signs include a lack of appetite, fever, inflammation of the lymph nodes, and greater sensitivity in the groin area. Secondly, one will then experience painful outbreaks in the genital area, as open wounds or blisters. Often times this is accompanied by itching, fever, and pain during urination, which are also some of the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.
These first symptoms of genital herpes do not always appear after the first month of contagion. For a lot of people, the virus could remain latent for months or even years, until showing signs of activity. Likewise, once you’re over an outbreak, you’ll never be able to tell when the next symptoms will appear. Experts say that stress, fatigue, a weak immune system, or genital friction could be the primary causes of outbreaks, also known as “herpes outbreak” or “reactivation”.
Once you are infected with herpes, you will have it for the rest of your life. This virus lives in the cells. The good news, however, is that you can control some of the symptoms, and there are home remedies that can help fight the symptoms during each episode.
To treat the discomfort and pain that comes along with a herpes outbreak, we recommend taking a mild analgesic, or follow your doctors orders.
It’s also a good idea to take warm showers, although you need to dry your genital area very well after every bath. Hygiene is also very important. Wash the affected area frequently only with warm water and a neutral soap that helps heal the area and prevents infection. Always dry the area well after washing.
And lastly, one key recommendation is to use cotton underwear, rather than synthetic fibers. Cotton keeps the area from staying moist.
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Useful Supplements and Plants for Genital Herpes
Genital herpes outbreaks are more frequent when the immune system is suppressed somehow, which is why supplements like echinacea can help improve the body’s immune system for preventing infections. This will make the outbreaks less frequent.
Propolis, a product of bees, could also help alleviate and heal the ulcers caused by genital herpes. Some ointments contain it, and it is generally a good idea to apply it several times a day until your condition improves.
Home Remedies for treating Genital Herpes
Other simple remedies that can be used to alleviate pain and accelerate healing include:
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Tea bags: We all know that tea has multiple health benefits, and it can also be a recommendable and tasty drink. But one little-known fact is that is can also help improve ulcers from genital herpes. Apply a black tea bag, previously soaked in warm or cold water, and press it to the affect area. Never use a hot tea bag. Dispose of the bag and then make sure to dry the area well.
Apply cold: If you experience a lot of pain or itching associated with the outbreak, ice could be a good alternative. Place crushed ice in a plastic bag and apply it to the affected area for 10 minutes. Try to repeat this procedure several times a day and throw away the plastic bags after each use. Try not to apply this for longer than 10 minutes, as prolonged ice exposure could damage the sensitive tissues in the genital area.
Aloe vera: This plant has been used to alleviate skin conditions even in times long ago. It works great for genital herpes. We recommend applying a bit of gel from the inside of an aloe vera stalk, to your herpes ulcers. Allow it to dry. If you don’t have an aloe plant, you could also get aloe gel and apply it in a thin layer, allowing it to dry to that the area doesn’t stay too moist.
Domeboro powder: This is an openly sold medication that is generally use to treat skin outbreaks, like those related to serious cases of athlete’s foot. It can also dry out and reduce the itching associated with herpes ulcers.
Sodium bicarbonate: Just like domeboro powder, sodium bicarbonate helps calm the irritation and itching associated with genital herpes thanks to its drying properties. Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to apply the powder to your ulcer. Remember to separate the sodium bicarbonate that you’re going to use, and set aside the rest to prevent contaminating it.
Lysine: This is an essential amino acid, which means that the body does not produce it and therefore it must be obtained from dietary sources, like legumes, meat, or even through supplements. Studies suggest that lysine can prevent or improve herpes outbreaks. However, we do recommend seeing your doctor before including this supplement in your diet.
Preventing infection with genital herpes
The herpes genital virus is a sexually transmitted disease and is highly contagious. It can be contracted through intercourse with an infected individual. The ulcers or blisters are the primary signs of herpes . If you’re trying to prevent herpes infection, we recommend avoiding contact with it, or coming into contact with personal objects used by the patient.
However, genital herpes can go through what is known as a “dormant phase”, whereby the virus is still active on the surface of the skin, although there are no visible symptoms. Coming into direct contact with the skin is a risk factor.
That’s why if you want to avoid infection, you must take extreme precautions. Keep in mind what the health risks are of an STD over a long course of time.
If you are male:
– Epididymitis: Inflammation of the epididymis, which is located inside the testicles.
- Urethral tightness: Reduction of the urethra which causes several difficulties in urinating and ejaculating.
- Orchitis: Inflammation of the testicles
– Sterility: Impossibility of impregnating a woman.
If you are female:
– Difficulty conceiving
– Risk of infecting the child during birth
– Ectopic pregnancy
Doctors and specialists recommend using condoms to prevent any sort of sexually transmitted disease. Even though this isn’t a 100% effective method in all cases – because of the obvious risks not involving penetration – using them could prevent lots of infections.
Likewise, if you suspect that you have been infected through any sort of unprotected sex, or contact with an infected individual, we advise undergoing a test to detect an STD. If this is a bacterial infection, the doctors may be able to cure it; or you could receive the appropriate treatment to alleviate or eradicate the symptoms, if this is a viral infection.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 12/27/2017
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