Genital herpes is a widespread sexually transmitted condition caused by the herpes virus. It spreads mainly through sexual contact. After you have been infected, the virus stays inactive in your body and causes flares several times a year. The flares of genital herpes cause very unpleasant symptoms that include pain, itching, and sores on your genitals. The healing process of a herpes outbreak can take between 2 - 4 weeks.
While there is no cure for genital herpes, some tips can help you improve your condition. Below are 8 recommendations to prevent or reduce the frequency and severity of flares.
There are several types of antiviral medications for the treatment of herpes. These can be medications that you need to take daily as suppressive therapy. They prevent the outbreaks of genital herpes and keep the virus inactive. The other type of medications is used episodically when you experience flares of herpes. Together with the best gynecological specialist, you need to decide which option is best for you.
Emotional and physical stress is one of the common triggers of herpes outbreaks. It is important to manage your stress levels to decrease the likelihood of flares. You may reduce your stress by using different relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or mindfulness meditation. They help lower stress and improve your ability to cope with stressful events.
Sex is another common trigger of herpes outbreaks, especially if you have insufficient lubrication. The frictions from intercourse can irritate the sensitive tissues of your vagina and cause herpes flares. Using a lubricant can help reduce the frictions and decrease your risk of an outbreak. Be sure to use a water-based lubricant because others may aggravate your condition.
Each person experiences herpes differently and may have different triggers of herpes outbreaks. You need to keep an eye on what is going in your life and your habits to determine which situations trigger herpes flares. Avoiding these triggers can help you reduce the frequency of outbreaks and their severity. Some widespread triggers include:
- Physical or emotional stress
- Poor diet
- Certain medications
- Exposure to UV light
The amino acid arginine is the most common food trigger of herpes outbreaks. You can find this acid in foods like legumes and whole grains. Eating these foods can trigger the outbreak or increase the severity of symptoms. While this is the most common food trigger, you may also have other foods that trigger herpes outbreaks.
It isn’t always possible to stop or prevent the outbreak of genital herpes. But you can lower the severity and length of the symptoms by starting treatment early enough. The main early warning signs of herpes outbreak include itching, tingling, and genital pain. Some people may experience shooting pain in the legs, hips, or buttocks. These symptoms usually occur a few hours or days before the outbreak happens.
While medical treatment is most effective, some people consider trying natural treatments for genital herpes. But before taking any supplements or vitamins, you need to discuss it with your doctor. Some food supplements and herbal remedies may interfere with your current treatment or cause unpredictable side effects.
Only a complex approach to treatment and prevention can help you deal with herpes outbreaks. You need to eat the right foods, sleep well, consume alcohol only in moderation, avoid smoking, and take care of underlying health issues. Because any other infection (common flu or cold) can trigger a herpes outbreak, you need to strengthen your immunity and avoid situations where you can get infected.