- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
What is Herpes Diseases?
It’s More Common Than You Think
Affecting as much as 80 per cent of the world population, herpes simplex-1 virus has to be one of the most common infections there is in the world today.
Also known as cold sores, this virus often occurs in childhood and young adulthood and is probably picked up through the simple act of receiving a kiss from a relative or loved one. While the hsv-1 virus is not considered to be dangerous, it is a highly contagious virus with no known cure at this moment in time – so once you have contracted it, you will have it for life. Should the blisters or sores affect the eyes, however, this could lead to blindness in rare cases.
The most well-known symptom of herpes simplex-1 virus is the tell-tale blisters or cold sores that form in and around the mouth and these can be quite painful. There are other symptoms, however, and a primary infection usually carries the most severe symptoms. The primary infection is the first outbreak following exposure to the virus. Typically, the person infected with the virus will have a fever for a few days and then they will start to experience pain or a tingling sensation on the surface of the skin where the cold sore is going to form. Herpes simplex-1 virus is highly contagious right up to the point where the cold sores form a crust and begin to heal.
The herpes simplex-1 virus manages to avoid being eliminated by the immune system’s antibodies by attaching itself to nerve cells and effectively hiding from them. From time to time throughout a person’s life, however, some events will trigger the herpes simplex-1 virus and it will come out of hiding, resulting in a herpes outbreak. Generally speaking recurrent outbreaks aren’t normally as severe as the primary infection, but they are still painful and inconvenient all the same and will require some kind of treatment in order to manage them successfully.
Typical events that may trigger a recurrence of herpes outbreaks could include:
· Stress – emotional or physical stress are both capable of triggering a herpes simplex-1 virus outbreak.
· Hormone changes – as these are quite capable of causing stress it’s not surprising that they can trigger a herpes outbreak too.
· Viral Infection – high fever is known to trigger herpes simplex-1 outbreaks
· Suppressed immune system – will trigger an outbreak of herpes simplex-1 in some people
· Too much sunlight – can also trigger an outbreak in some people.
There is a lesson to be learnt from the events that trigger herpes simplex-1 virus in people and that is to simply avoid those things wherever possible. It is easier said than done and it isn’t possible to control such things as hormone changes, but even if you can’t avoid it, you will be forewarned that an outbreak is likely to happen and you can prepare for it.
Does Herpes Itch?
People who suffer with herpes simplex-1 virus and herpes simplex-2 virus have at least one thing in common – an itch that needs to be scratched! The problem is that, although scratching seems to take the itch away temporarily, it is important to avoid doing scratching an itch where possible. Not only does scratching prevent the healing process, but it can also result in re-infection if you touch broken skin after scratching.
One of the biggest problems associated with herpes itches, or any other itches come to that, is that the itching is invariably unbearable and instead of making the itch go away, scratching sometimes makes the itch worse. The most sensible course of action is to find a way to prevent or control the itching, especially as, with a herpes simplex-1 virus outbreak, it can last from a couple of days before the sores appear right up until they have completely healed.
There are some simple steps you can take to stop itching from herpes outbreaks that you can achieve without the aid of drugs or supplements and they include:
· Making sure that you keep the sores clean will help prevent itching and reduce the chance of getting an infection
· Trying to steer clear of irritation will help with the itch, so don’t scratch it. If you have genital herpes (herpes simplex-2 virus) you may wish to wear loose clothing so that you don’t irritate the sores through friction.
· Soaking the sores in warm water with added Epsom salts will help to cleanse the sore and also dry it out which will stop the symptoms from worsening.
· Ice packs can cool the sore and reduce inflammation which should ease the itch
While these actions should bring relief from itching in mild cases, it may be necessary to complement them with some kind of medication should the outbreak be quite severe.
The most common medications used to treat herpes are Zovirax and Valrex, both of which are anti-viral and tackle herpes symptoms quite effectively, reducing the severity and also the length of time it takes to heal. As with any medication you should be careful and watch out for any side effects and notify your doctor immediately you notice any. The side effects are normally quite mild such as nausea, headaches and vomiting, but can include diarrhea, blurred vision and drowsiness and in rare cases they could cause siezures.
Are There Alternatives To Medication?
A lot of people are very wary of taking medication because of the chance that there may be adverse side effects and, therefore, more and more people are turning to herbal remedies. Apart from becoming more popular, herbal remedies enjoy a degree of success in managing the symptoms of herpes including itching.
The natural world has been providing clinically proven treatment for herpes for some time now and some of the things you should be looking out for are as follows:
· Garlic – a 1992 study carried out at Brigham Young University showed that the natural chemical found in garlic, allicin, has virucidal properties
· Lemon Balm Oil - is an effective treatment for herpes prior to the appearance of cold sores and a 2008 study showed that it repressed the viral activity of herpes
· Bee Propolis – is something that bees produce to help build their hives and it is a sticky substance derived from tree sap which has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. It helps reduce the pain from cold sores and reduces the healing period
· Tea Tree Oil – in tests, tea tree oil was shown to reduce the healing time of an outbreak of herpes simplex-1 virus by 25 per cent
· Echinacea – not only does Echinacea help to boost the immune system, but it also has an antiviral effect on herpes simplex-1 virus
Dietary supplements are also useful in tackling herpes symptoms and a diet rich in these substances is also desirable. Four very effective dietary supplements are Lysine, lactoferrin, vitamin A and vitamin E. Although these can be taken as a supplement they can also be found in certain foods and some of those foods are rich in more than one of the four substances mentioned above..
· Lysine – this amino acid isn’t produced by the body and has to be provided through diet or dietary supplement. It can be found in foods such as meat, eggs, dairy products, fish and raw nuts.
· Lactoferrin – not only does this boost the immune system but it also has the ability to block herpes virus from entering the nerve cells they like to hide in. It can be found in milk, yoghurt, cheese and whey protein powder.
· Vitamin A – This vitamin effectively reduces the severity of outbreaks and can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, mangoes, spinach and salmon to name but a few.
· Vitamin E – gives a good boost to the body’s immune system, which is beneficial in treating herpes and foods that are rich in vitamin E include spinach, broccoli, wheat germ oil and nuts and seeds.
What’s The Verdict?
Herpes simplex-1 virus and herpes simplex-2 virus are basically the same although herpes simplex-2 virus is considered to be more virulent. Herpes is a highly contagious virus that affects a vast number of people and in some cases – thought to be thirty per cent of known cases – those people don’t even know they have the disease, because they never have any of the symptoms associated with it. This means that the virus is passed on unwittingly to other people. It is typified by the appearance of blisters or cold sores on the lips and mouth (oral herpes – herpes simplex-1 virus) or the genital area (genital herpes – herpes simplex-2 virus). Although herpes isn’t considered to be life threatening, in a few very rare cases complications can lead to more serious conditions such as seizures, blindness and encephalitis.
Even though there is currently no cure for herpes, it is possible to control and suppress the symptoms and the frequency of recurrent outbreaks by using diet, herbal remedies and medication.