What is genital herpes?
Herpes is an unbelievably contagious disease, in the form of a virus in the bloodstream, which is spread from one person to another. The virus that causes your first herpes outbreak stays in your body forever, and will flare up from time to time. Herpes can affect the mouth or the genitals, but both have similar symptoms.
There are two versions of herpes, namely HSV-1 and HSV-2. The HSV-1 form of the virus usually manifests itself as a sore or blister round the mouth.
HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is passed to the genitals during skin-on-skin contact. Genital herpes is manifested by blisters or sores on the genitals as well as the anal area. This manifestation can also flare up periodically, and even when blisters and sores have healed, is still extremely contagious.
Common genital herpes symptoms
In some cases, people may not show any symptoms of a herpes outbreak, or the symptoms may not be very severe. Usually the first sign that you may be having a herpes flare-up is itching or pain, especially in the genital area.
- There may be sores, blisters or lesions, which can lead to constant, almost uncontrollable itching, tingling or burning, in the affected areas.
- Appearance of red, raw areas, and small blisters that break open and lead to painful sores in the genital areas, including the tops of the thighs, buttocks, and rectum.
- An unbearable itching in the genital and anus areas.
- Females can experience burning when urinating over open sores.
Getting rid of the daily itch is often a priority for those experiencing a genital herpes flare-up.
Some ways to reduce itchiness during herpes outbreaks
Herpes itching can be a serious problem, and there is an ever-present danger of infection when you scratch. It is also advisable to avoid sexual intercourse during a flare up of severe itchiness.
Here are some helpful ways to lessen the itch.
- Avoid scratching, as you may irritate the sores and blisters, which will lead to more itching. Wear loose clothing over genital herpes to prevent irritation on the blisters.
- Clean open sores gently with warm water and a mild solution of Epsom salts. All sores depend on acid to flourish, and as Epsom salts is alkaline, it helps to reduce the acidity. Dab as you clean – don’t rub as this might simply spread the virus around.
- The herpes virus generally flares up when your immune system is compromised by fighting an infection, or colds and flu.
- Keep your immune system in tiptop condition by maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veggies – and regular exercise. A daily multi vitamin will also be good to pep up the immune system and prevent a recurrence of the itch.
- A topical ointment, such as zinc oxide which is alkaline and anti-bacterial, is recommended to soothe the itchy areas.
- There are antiviral medications available that are also used to treat herpes, which are available by prescription only. These meds are usually used at the onset of a flare-up to relieve symptoms such as chronic itching, and shorten the period of the outbreak. If you experience an extremely severe flare-up, you may need to visit the doctor for meds to get relief from the symptoms.
Get tested if you think you may be infected
Many folk do not even know whether or not they are positive for herpes, but if you suspect that you could have the virus, a simple blood test will tell you. You may not have any symptoms, but knowing your status will allow you to take steps to keep the virus in check.
Fortunately, in addition to the proven home remedies, studies have revealed that there are several antiviral herbs available that stop herpes from progressing, and reduce the itch that can affect your entire life.
The bottom line
Once you have herpes, you have it for life. There is no magic pill that can offer a cure. The best way to control the symptoms and prevent outbreaks by keeping your immune operating efficiently. Remember that if the herpes virus sees a gap, it will run riot in the bloodstream, and cause itching and blisters to recur.
The only way to support the immune system is to eat a healthy diet – and follow a healthy lifestyle.
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