Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a contagious virus that can be transmitted from person to person. HSV-1 is oral herpes most commonly known as cold sores that generally lives on the mouth, but it can also be passed to the genitals. Children can often contract HSV-1 from early contact with an adult who has an infection. This can be from when an adult kisses the child on the mouth. HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection that can appear on the genitals or mouth. Children carry the virus with them for the rest of their lives, even though it may be difficult to identify the person who has a problem with it when they are in contact with someone who has been infected. Herpes can appear in various areas of the body, such as the eyes and fingers, but most commonly the genitals and the mouth. Neonatal herpes can also occur when a baby is born through the vaginal canal that is having an outbreak. Neonatal herpes can be deadly and have severe complications, and it is best to check with your healthcare provider to set up a plan of action for your pregnancy and managing it.

Herpes is a common infection

Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. Herpes causes outbreaks of itchy, painful blisters or sores that come and go. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live healthy life. There’s no cure for herpes, but medication can ease symptoms and lower the chances of giving the virus to other people. Also supplementing with immune-boosting herbs and changing your diet and lifestyle will also help suppress outbreaks and prevent symptoms.

How do you get herpes?

Herpes is easily spread from skin to skin contact with someone who has the virus. You don’t have to have sex to get herpes. You can get it when your genitals and/or mouth touch another person’s genitals, mouth, and eyes. You also can pass herpes by kissing someone who has oral herpes. Herpes can be passed even if the penis or tongue doesn’t go all the way in the vagina or mouth. Other areas of skin may get infected if there is a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. The virus dies quickly outside the body, so you can’t get herpes from hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or the toilet seat.

What’s the difference between genital herpes and oral herpes?

Many people are confused between HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 causes oral herpes, while HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. It’s possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect both areas, so it’s possible to infect either area. When you get HSV-1 on or around your genitals, it’s called genital herpes. It is possible to spread HSV-2 to the mouth during oral sex but it’s rare. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can recur frequently.

HSV-2 and HIV

HSV-2 is the most common infection in people living with HIV, occurring in 60 to 90% of HIV-infected persons. In advanced HIV disease, it can lead to more serious, but rare, complications such as meningoencephalitis, esophagitis, hepatitis, pneumonitis, retinal necrosis, or disseminated infection. Infection in people with HIV-2 in people can have a more severe presentation and more frequent recurrences. In advanced AIDS patients, it may also lead to serious complications such as liver failure or lymphoma.

What triggers an outbreak?

The herpes virus stays in your body even if you have no symptoms. You are carrying the virus in the nerve root ganglia at the base of your spine. The virus can shed while not presenting any symptoms and can still infect other people. The good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time. If you’re a woman, you could get an outbreak when you start your period. In general, you may get an outbreak during illness, too much sun on the face, stress, overconsumption of sugar, alcohol, skin friction from sex, fatigue, weakened immune system, trauma, and physical exertion. This list is not exhaustive as there are many things that can be specifically triggering for you.

Symptoms of an outbreak

In an initial outbreak for HSV-2 on the genitals, you may have swollen lymph nodes in the groin region, fever, pain, itching in the genital area, visible sores or fever blisters, chills, fatigue, and body aches. The blisters eventually break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Symptoms may vary from person to person and in the occurrence of any such symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor or health care provider so that he/she can determine whether indeed there has been an outbreak or not and to diagnose genital herpes.

What foods trigger herpes outbreaks?

In order for your body to help suppress the virus, it has to have a balance between l-lysine and arginine which are amino acids. Foods high in arginine can cause an outbreak because the herpes virus feeds off of it. The foods that trigger herpes are:

  • nuts
  • wheat
  • raisins
  • soy
  • alcohol
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • peanuts
  • refined carbohydrates
  • sugar
  • caffeine

Foods that support your body when you have herpes

Foods high in l-lysine and other immune-boosting vitamins are ideal to eat on a regular basis. The foods that support the body are:

  • wild-caught fish
  • grass-fed beef
  • poultry
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • garlic
  • eggs
  • beans

How to prevent an outbreak

Some people only take antiviral medications if they feel itching, tingling, and sores are coming on. Your doctor may suggest that you take an antiviral every day if you have frequent outbreaks or if you want to protect your partner from getting infected. If you feel an outbreak coming on, you can also eat more foods high in l-lysine or supplement with immune-boosting herbs.

Is there a cure?

Currently, there is no cure yet for herpes. It can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes. If you are interested in new vaccines that are being tested to manage recurrent herpes infections, you can be part of the clinical trials at clinicaltrials.gov.

How is herpes treated?

Medication

No drug can get rid of the herpes virus. Antiviral medication such as Valtrex (valacyclovir) or acyclovir can help reduce the risk of passing herpes to a partner. Some people find that stress, fatigue, illness, skin friction, and sunbathing can trigger recurrences of symptoms. Start treatment within 24 hours of initial symptoms, for example, as soon as tingling begins. A person may need to take an antiviral medication at each recurrence.

Integrative management of herpes

Other methods that help manage herpes infections are acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, meditation, hypnotherapy, cold exposure therapy, Ayurveda, nutrition counseling, essential oils, and herbal remedies.

How will my doctor know if I have herpes?

Generally, when someone gets their routine STD check, herpes is not even included in the testing. The reason, I once heard from a doctor, is that it is such a common virus that everyone has it and they don’t see the need to test for it. Check your symptoms and specifically get a blood or swab test from your local doctor to test for genital herpes. The blood test is used to look for herpes antibodies, and the swab test is useful during an active infection for the sores. Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about STDs. The test cannot tell how long you have been infected or how long a patient has had a history of the infection.

How to prevent contracting herpes

The best way to avoid contracting herpes is to practice abstinence. We all know that is a hard lifestyle to live. The next best way to prevent transmission is by using latex condoms and taking medication for it. It is still possible to spread herpes even when you don’t have visible sores as the virus likes to shed on the skin. There will still be a small chance that your sexual partner may contract herpes from you which is why it is important to have that conversation with them.

Psychosocial impact

Contracting genital herpes can often lead to psychological distress. Social stigma may affect the quality of sex life and sexual relationships with partners. Most people with herpes adjust to living with the infection in time. Always tell your potential sex partners about the infection before you have sexual contact. Many people are open-minded and applaud you for being brave for telling them about it.

You are not alone

As stated before, herpes simplex is one of the most common viruses in the world. Life can return back to normal, and yes you will be loved, accepted, and cherished. The difference now is you have an actual health meter in your body telling you when you have had too much alcohol, or too much sugar and stress, and it will let you know by showing symptoms. It can also serve as a genuine person filter, because if someone can’t accept you for who you are with the virus, then you don’t need that kind of person in your life anyway.

Are you interested in a natural way to help manage your chronic genital herpes infection?

I offer functional nutrition and hypnotherapy in personalized programs that are tailored specifically to your needs. My goal is not just symptom relief, but also prevention of future outbreaks and the emotional toll they can take on you.

You deserve a life without fear or shame about this condition. Let me help you find peace of mind so that you can live fully again! Reach out to me today at contact@metacosmvitality.com or click on work with me for more information on how we can work together!