Whether they appear on your lips or on your genitals, herpes lesions can produce a lot of pain and misery. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV,) these sores can last for 10 to 14 days, during which the virus is highly contagious.
Most people who have HSV don't know it since the virus can lie dormant for your entire lifetime. People who do have outbreaks experience them differently. Symptoms may continue on and off for years and then suddenly stop, or not. Some people experience outbreaks many times each year, while others get them once in a blue moon.
Herpes can't be cured, but symptoms can be managed. Prescription antiviral medications can help control outbreaks, but these come with side effects and don't work for everyone. A natural, holistic approach to managing herpes symptoms offers the best chances for relief. Here are some natural remedies to relieve symptoms, shorten the duration of outbreaks, and even help prevent herpes outbreaks in the future.
Keep your sores clean and dry. Use mild soap and warm water to wash them, and pat them dry with a towel. Try not to touch the sores, since you'll transfer germs and bacteria that can make them worse. To reduce pain, press a warm towel against the lesions, or sit in a warm bath or shower. Tea tree oil is commonly used on skin lesions for its natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil and apply it to your sores three times a day for healing and relief.
Foods to avoid during an outbreak--and between outbreaks, if you want to reduce them--include alcohol and sugar. Added sugar in your diet suppresses the immune system and worsens inflammation. Most processed foods contain lots of added sugar, which adds up quickly. Large amounts of alcohol can increase the likelihood of and worsen an outbreak, since it suppresses immune function and makes some herpes symptoms, like aches, fatigue, and skin inflammation, worse.
A healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet can go a long way toward reducing the frequency of outbreaks and shortening their duration. The food you eat impacts every system in your body, including your immune system. Stronger immunity is associated with fewer and shorter outbreaks. During an outbreak, eat red and orange vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C. Wild-caught fish is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and repair tissues. Zinc-rich foods like nuts, spinach, and grass-fed beef assists in rebuilding skin and protecting the body from viruses.
Research shows that stress can contribute to a herpes outbreak, so reducing your stress is paramount. Take care of the stressors in your life, and learn to reduce stress on the spot with meditation and deep breathing exercises. Exercise most days of the week to enjoy powerful stress-relief benefits.
A number of supplements can help slow outbreaks and reduce their duration and intensity. Anti-viral herbs, including calendula, echinacea, and garlic, can help suppress the virus. Vitamin C boosts immune function and improves sores. A B-vitamin complex can help you reduce stress, and it can prevent outbreaks.
Until a cure for herpes is found, your best bet is to do what you can to ease the pain and discomfort of outbreaks while maintaining a healthy lifestyle to help prevent symptoms from occurring. With a proper diet, supplementation, and regular exercise, you may just find your outbreaks fewer and farther between.
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