Friday, February 26, 2021

Herpes: Ultimate Guide to Herpes Simplex Virus


As a sufferer of herpes myself, I know how horrible it is to deal with herpes outbreaks and the treatment of your herpes condition. I have tried a number of treatment options and have had many of them fail.

If you have been newly infect, I know that this might seem like the end of the world, but there is a lot more information out there about herpes than there was 30 years ago when I first was infected. I was exposed to the virus by my parents (who knew nothing about the virus) when I was only a little baby.

Every time I have an outbreak, I get very mad about how I had not control over whether or not I could be infected with herpes sores. It’s a horrible feeling.

But herpes does not have to control your life. You can live an awesome life without having to worry about your outbreaks all the time. This section of the site is dedicated to help you with some of the questions you may have surrounding the herpes virus, both oral herpes (Herpes Simplex I) and/or Genital herpes (Herpes Simplex II).

So, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

Types of Herpes

There are a couple types of herpes, mainly herpes simplex 1, also known as cold sores or mouth herpes, and herpes simplex 2, also referred to as genital herpes. There is also herpes zoster, a virus that causes herpes shingles but is not related to the herpes simplex virus.

Herpes can be found in places besides the genitals and the mouth. Herpes is a virus that loves mucosal areas and can be found in a number of places including:

Mouth Herpes

Mouth herpes is most commonly known as cold sores. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and it is highly contagious, but manageable.

How can you get mouth herpes?

Cold sores are very common. Caused by the HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus 1), the infection is easily transmittable. Direct contact with an infected person (kissing) is the main transmission method. The herpes simplex virus type 2 can also cause it, even though it is mainly responsible for the genital herpes. Everybody can get the herpes virus. It is the most common skin disease and it has been around for a very long time. The origins of the virus are unknown.

As mentioned above, it is usually contacted through direct contact with an infected person. Kissing an infected person or even drinking from the same bottle or glass out of which a herpes carrier has drank will most likely result in you getting the virus as well. There is no certainty that an outbreak will occur right after you got infected, or even ever at all. But the virus will be there.

Symptoms of mouth herpes

Cold sores firstly make themselves noticeable as mild rashes of the skin around the mouth or on the lips. They are itchy and very uncomfortable. If you are going through your first outbreak, the symptoms will be somewhat more pronounced. Subsequent outbreaks will be easier to deal with and will heal faster. Along with the rash, you might experience fever and muscle pain. Again, these symptoms are common for the first outbreaks – do not panic, just treat the symptoms and you will be fine.

The next thing you will notice is that in the area where the rash began, small blisters or sores will start to appear. A single blister may appear or several, stacked tightly together. The itching and/or burning sensation will persist. It is important to treat them as soon as possible. Scarring is very uncommon, even if you scratch – the skin will heal itself over time. But being that cold sores are uncomfortable and not a pretty sight, it is best to deal with them as soon as possible.

Treatments for cold sores

In treating mouth herpes, a treatment for infection should be sought. Antiviral medication, although considered a serious treatment for herpes simplex 1, is probably the most effective and direct treatment. Used along with special ointments for cold sores, it can deliver the best results in the shortest amount of time.

The sores or blisters will heal by themselves in about two weeks. But with proper treatment, you can reduce that time to as little as three days. In order to prevent another outbreak, try and maintain a healthy diet and a strong immune system. Also, for as long as the blisters are still present on your skin, avoid contact (kissing or drinking from same container) with other people in order to prevent spreading the virus.

There is no permanent cure for herpes simplex. All you can do for the moment is manage the symptoms as soon as possible in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Ocular Herpes

Ocular herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. It is the same virus that causes cold sores. Eye herpes can be dangerous if not treated and can cause blindness, so it is a very serious disease to treat correctly.

Transmission, symptoms and treatment of ocular herpes

The herpes virus is very contagious and is spread from an infected person during and outbreak to a non-infected individual. The herpes virus loves mucus membranes, so it is very common for herpes to be seen in the mouth, nose, eyes, and genitalia. The virus will lay dormant in the nerves and in the spinal cord when you are not having an outbreak.

Usually, the HSV-1 will cause cold sores around the mouth. But there are circumstances when it will travel back from the spinal cord to the eye, instead of the mouth. This will cause herpes of the eye. There are three main types of the infection when it affects the eye:

  • herpes keratitis
  • stromal keratitis
  • iridocyclitis

Depending on the type, several symptoms will become noticeable. Another form of herpes simplex that affects the eyes is the herpes retinitis – this affects the back of the eye and retina.

Herpes Keratitis

Herpes keratitis is the usual type of infection that affects the eye because of the herpes virus. It is also relatively mild, given the fact that only the epithelium (top layer of the cornea) will be affected. The symptoms will not last long and the area will heal quickly and without any scaring. Antiviral medication that comes in eye drops is advised to prevent complications.

Stromal Keratitis

Stromal keratitis is another form of ocular herpes. It is a rare condition, but it can have serious consequences, including blinding. The immune system may take a while to react to the presence of the virus and so, lower layers of the cornea may be affected. This can lead to scarring, blurry vision or even blindness. Reports show that the vast majority of corneal scarring which leads to blindness is the result of a herpes infection.


Iridocyclitis is another rare condition that occurs when the immune system takes even longer to respond and the virus travels all through the eye, infecting the iris and surrounding areas. Ocular pain, blurry vision, inflammation and sensitivity to light are symptoms of this form of ocular herpes.

Other symptoms associated with the herpes simplex virus affecting the eye are: irritation, swelling around the eyes, tearing, redness, watery discharge and tearing. Any of these symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately and start following the according treatment. There are 50,000 new cases of eye herpes each year.

Herpes Encephalitis

Herpes encephalitis, or herpes simplex encephalitis, is a condition in which the brain gets swollen. This happens due to the fact that the herpes simplex 1 virus travels along nerves and reaches the brain. Encephalitis is caused by a number of viruses. The HSV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of fatalities due to sporadic encephalitis. Herpes encephalitis only affects two people in a million in the US. There are two types of herpes simplex encephalitis, depending on the age of the patient.

Herpes simplex and infants

The first case occurs if a pregnant mother contacts herpes simplex type 2 which will develop into genital herpes. The baby is then somewhat prone to catching the virus. It is important to treat the symptoms as soon as they are noticed. If left untreated and the mother gives birth while presenting symptoms, then the baby is highly exposed to the virus. Given the fact that the newborn’s brain and skull are still developing the entire brain can be affected. Usually this does not happen because the doctor will opt for a caesarean section, rather than a natural birth. Herpes encephalitis can affect a baby that has contacted HSV-2 from the mother in the first three months of life.

Herpes simplex and young children and adults

The second case is applied only to children older than 3 months and adults. The culprit is still the herpes simplex virus, but type 1. This herpes virus is responsible for cold sores. It is very unlikely that this virus will reach the brain. It cannot travel there through the bloodstream because of the BBB (Blood Brain Barrier). But it can, in very rare occasions, reach the brain by traveling up the nose cavity, reaching the sinuses and then the brain. This will result in herpes encephalitis. The condition is very rare and treatable.

In order to get an accurate diagnosis for the encephalitis, doctors will do a spinal tap and extract some spinal fluid. It is in this fluid that they will find the DNA strand of the herpes simplex virus and know for sure that it is the cause behind the condition. Treatment consists of intravenous acyclovir.


In both cases, the number one thing to do is treat the herpes symptoms. This will prevent the virus from spreading from a mother to her child during childbirth. Also, administering antiviral medication will keep the virus at bay, stopping it in its tracts if it tries to get to the brain.

Taking care of your body’s immune system is also crucial. A strong immune system will keep the virus latent, not allowing it to become symptomatic. There is no known permanent cure for herpes simplex.

As for the herpes simplex virus type 1, again, the most important thing is to treat symptoms. Usually, you can get rid of cold sores in 3-10 days if the correct treatment is applied on time. Doing this will prevent the virus from advancing any further then your lips or mouth. Also, hygiene is very important in preventing herpes encephalitis.

Skin Herpes

Skin herpes may refer to any of the type 1 or 2 herpes simplex viruses or the herpes zoster. Herpes zoster is more commonly known as shingles.

Transmission, symptoms and treatment of skin herpes

It does not matter which of the above-mentioned viruses – the transmission mechanism is the same. The herpes virus is generally a very contagious condition which can easily be transmitted from one person to the other by close or direct contact. This happens especially when the virus becomes symptomatic, a phase in which viral content and the virus itself is present on the very skin. Touching an infected area, drinking from the same receptacle or engaging in intercourse will almost surely end up with an infection if the ill person is showing symptoms.

Skin herpes can either be shingles or the common cold sore. Slightly different strands of the herpes virus are responsible for each. Symptoms, in both cases amount usually to a rash, blisters and sores. But this can differ from one person to the other, depending on their health and immune system status. Shingles is a condition that occurs in adults and the elderly, if they had chickenpox when they were children. This is because the virus never actually leaves the body – it remains fixed on nerve endings and will erupt if the immune system is slightly affected or if the person goes through a stressful period.

There are a lot of other symptoms associated with skin herpes, like: itching, tingling, fever, headache, fatigue, pain, sensitive skin and burning sensations. These should all be treated accordingly and individually with an intake of antiviral medication to stop the virus in its tracks. There is no permanent cure for the virus, all you can do is treat and manage the symptoms. In managing the symptoms for skin sores, the most common, non-invasive treatments are the topical ones which involve using special ointments for the infections.

Possible complications of skin herpes

Shingles can leave permanent scarring on the skin. It is important to treat the itching, rather than scratch the area. The skin’s sensitivity and elasticity is lost during an infection and it can be permanently damaged.

Another possible complication might occur if the infection is left untreated. This is common when the herpes simplex is confused with another skin condition or infection. If the herpes acts upon the genital area, it may be confused with genital warts. Also, a condition known as tinea cruris (jock itch) might resemble a herpes infection in some circumstances.

Herpes of the skin has been reported to be able to “move” from one area to the other. Cold sores, if left untreated, might help the virus reach the eye, resulting in ocular herpes. In less rare cases, it may be that the virus could travel up the nose, reach the sinuses and get to the brain, causing herpes encephalitis. As these two latter cases are rare, there is no conclusive evidence that supports them, but the risk is acknowledged.

Facial Herpes

I personally know a few people that suffer from facial herpes and it is not fun. Facial herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus and can spread to the cheeks, nose and eyes.


Herpes is transmitted through contact with an infected person via sexual activity, kissing, sharing a drink or food with an infected person, etc. To contract the virus, you must come in contact with the virus, and then it has to take root in your nervous system.

If you are already infected with the herpes virus, you can spread the virus to other parts of your body by touching or picking the oozing blisters and then touching or picking other parts of your body. This is why having good hygiene is key to managing your herpes outbreaks.

After medicating or touching my blisters, I always make sure to wash my hands with warm soap and water. This will prevent you from spreading the virus to other parts of your body.

Symptoms and treatment

After the initial infection, the virus becomes dormant and stays within your nervous system. Some infected persons will never have an outbreak, but many will have reoccurring outbreaks of the virus. This is when the blisters will form and appear. The blister often start off as many small zit-like formations that then combined to form one giant or multiple giant blisters filled with a white pus.

Eventually these blisters will pop and start to ooze and the healing process will begin with the blisters scabbing over. As long as you do not pick at the scabs or blisters, scarring from herpes is rare. I have suffered from herpes since I was an infant and I do not have any scare from my herpes infections. You skin will return to normal after your infection has healed.

There is no cure for herpes but there are many antiviral medications and over the counter medications that can help you manage the symptoms of the virus. The blisters can often be itchy and can become painful when they break and scab.

Outbreaks are often instigated by overexposure to the sun, increased stress, sickness, bad diet, and lack of sleep. Make sure that if you are feeling run down that you go to bed early or take a nap. I know we are all busy, but I would rather take an hour to get some rest than have an outbreak on my face for 7-14 days. When you go outside, make sure you put on some chap stick with SPF in it as well. Better safe than sorry.

Anal Herpes

Anal herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. You most often here of herpes being associated with the mouth or the genitals, but it can often be found in other places like the eye, ears, skin, nose and anus. The herpes virus loves moist places.

60% of people infected with the herpes virus do not even know they are infected, and for the other 40% that know, they are often confused by the symptoms or mistake herpes for something else.

In the case of herpes in the anus, a person often mistake their symptoms for hemorrhoids, yeast infections, jock itch, ingrown hairs, or other anorectal disorders. Anal herpes can be caused by either strain of the virus (herpes simplex 1 or herpes simplex 2). The virus is contracted through someone that is infected with the virus. It can also be caused by sharing a moist towel with someone during an outbreak.


Herpes of the anus causes sharp, knife like pain during a bowel movement. The pain can last anywhere from a few minutes up to 15 minutes after your bowel movement. Anal herpes can cause minor anal bleeding. You may have blisters like in other herpes outbreaks, but usually you will have some type of crack or fissure.

Herpes, unlike other disorders, will likely be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, a fever, lower back pain, and other flu like symptoms. It will also be accompanied by itching and burning. The best thing to do is to see your doctor and they will be able to properly diagnose and treat your symptoms.


No cure is available for herpes. Once infected with the virus you have it for life. There are many medications out there today that can help reduce the number of outbreaks you have. There are also many over the counter creams and treatments to help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of herpes.

Having herpes is not the end of the world.

It is a manageable condition. Even though outbreaks are uncomfortable and embarrassing, they do not have to rule your life. Diet and life change can help reduce the number of outbreaks you have every year. I know personally that diet and one day a week of relaxation helps to minimize my breakouts to less than once a year.

Tongue Herpes

Tongue herpes is a condition that occurs after the infection with the HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type 1). Like cold sores, it will cause blisters and sores on the surface of the tongue or around it. There is no permanent cure for the infection, but symptoms are manageable through modern day medicine.


Like any other herpes infection, oral herpes will be transmitted through direct contact with an object that was used by an infected person or contact with person or through direct contact (i.e. kissing) with an infected person. The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious and it can pass through the body’s natural defenses. Once the virus makes contact with a healthy person, it will find a near nerve ending and start moving on that nerve towards the spinal cord. There it will multiply and get ready to cause a first outbreak within 2-3 weeks from infection.


When the time is right, the virus will travel back along the nerves until it reaches the surface of the skin, causing a mild rash and blisters. While usually this will lead to cold sores around the mouth, there are some circumstances in which the virus will settle on or around the tongue, thus provoking tongue herpes. The blisters will be filled with a yellow liquid and will burst after a while, causing painful sores. There are topical treatments for the sores if they are located on the surface of the skin. But in the case of herpes infecting the inside of the mouth, this can get a bit tricky.


If left untreated, the herpes sores can last up to three weeks. With proper treatment, you can get rid of them in a matter of days. There are oral antiviral medications like Flamciclovir or Acyclovir that help with reducing blisters and subsequent outbreaks. It is also important to note that when going through your first outbreak, flu-like symptoms may be experienced. These include fever, headaches, swollen lymph glands and muscle pain. Further outbreaks will be less violent and easier to manage through medication, but it is important that you do treat the symptoms.

Possible complications

Due to its position, tongue herpes or any kind of oral herpes, if left untreated, can travel up and reach the eyes, causing ocular herpes. This is why it is very important to treat the symptoms as soon as you notice them. Hygiene is also important, along with a healthy immune system which will prevent the virus from spreading or causing more damage and discomfort than usual.

Another risk of not treating the herpes simplex virus type one is the fact that it can actually travel along the face, reaching the sinuses and then the brain. In this case (even though it is very rare), herpes encephalitis might occur. In very rare cases, this can be deadly, especially to newborns.

One other problem that tongue herpes might cause is it being confused with canker sores or even swollen taste buds. It is important to pay attention to symptoms and if you are still not sure, go visit the doctor in order to get an accurate diagnosis.

Vaginal Herpes

Vaginal herpes, also known as genital herpes, is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus II. Often, people mistake genital herpes for genital warts but your doctor will be able to properly diagnosed which of the two diseased you have.


Herpes is transmitted through contact with an infected person via sexual activity. You may have contracted the virus through sexual intercourse with and infected partner or through oral sex. Although the virus is most commonly caused by Herpes Simplex II, it is possible to get Herpes Simplex I (cold sores of the mouth) in the genital area.

Once infected, your first infection will not necessarily result in a herpes breakout, which is noted by blisters and sores forming on and around the vaginal tissue. The first infection can feel more like the flu. You can have chills, a fever, sore muscles, and other flu like symptoms.

Symptoms and treatment

After the initial infection, the virus becomes dormant and stays within your nervous system. Some infected persons will never have an outbreak. They are the lucky ones and are called carriers of the virus. Others will have reoccurring outbreaks of the virus. This is when the blisters will form and appear. Vaginal herpes can be very painful and uncomfortable. This is why treatment by your doctor is best when it comes to genital herpes.

There is no cure from herpes but there are many over the counter medications that can help you manage the symptoms of the virus. The blisters can often be itchy and can become painful when they break and scab. You can talk with your doctor to see if antiviral medications might be right for you. Antiviral medications can be taken at the time of and outbreak, or taken daily to prevent outbreaks from occurring.

Genital herpes is definitely a horrible disease to contract, but it very manageable and you can have healthy and happy relationship with other people. Some people may be turned off by your infection, but most people and those who truly care about you will not care. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner up front is the best way to deal with your herpes virus.

Is Herpes Life Threatening?

The majority of herpes cases are non-life threatening except in the case of herpes encephalitis where the herpes virus can get into the brain tissue. This is a very serious condition and should be treated immediately by a doctor.

The types of herpes listed above have no cure. There are many treatments for herpes, but at the moment there are no cures for the virus. This is something that science continues to work on and many great antiviral medications have come out to help reduce outbreaks. Antiviral medications are a great way to manage vaginal herpes as well as cold sores. Also, a number of over the counter medications are available to help relieve outbreak symptoms. There are even a number of home remedies that you can try to see what works best for you.

Having herpes really stinks. I know because I have lived with the virus since I was a baby. No matter what infection of the herpes virus you have, you should take care to not infect others by abstaining from sexual activity, not sharing drinks, food, silverware, napkins, towels, chapstick, toothbrushes, etc. during an outbreak. I personally never share my toothbrush or chapstick with anyone even if I have not had an outbreak.

Herpes Simplex 1

The herpes simplex 1 virus or HSV-1 is the infection responsible for cold sores. I personally suffer from this form of the virus, so I completely understand you pain and frustration with the virus.

The virus affects humans and it is highly contagious. Once infected, a person will start experiencing symptoms related to the virus. This is called an outbreak. Some people experience one outbreak (the lucky ones), others might have to go through constant outbreaks. Before I took the time to modify my diet and lifestyle, I was having outbreaks once every month almost. It was horrible.


Transmission of the herpes simplex 1 occurs through direct contact with an infected person. In the case of cold sores, kissing a carrier of the virus or even putting your mouth on a glass or bottle used by such a person can result in infection. If you have a strong immune system, there are chances that you will not get it the first time around, but continued contact will increase chances of infection. Also, it is very important to avoid contact with a person who is showing symptoms of cold sores. This is because when the blisters appear, the virus is present in the affected area, thus making it easier for it to be transmitted.


After infection, it takes anywhere four to seven days for the herpes simplex 1 virus to become symptomatic. The cold sores do not appear immediately. On the first outbreak of the virus, you will most likely experience symptoms that match those of the common flu. Fever, muscle ache and swollen lymph glands are common. Along with them, you will start noticing a rash around or in the mouth. It is only after that, usually, that blisters appear. It can be only one blister or a number of blisters. They are very fragile and will burst, resulting in painful, itchy sores that eventually heal in one to two weeks depending on treatment.

Treatment and prevention

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for the herpes simplex 1. The only option is to manage the symptoms and treat them. You even have the option of taking steps in order to prevent recurring outbreaks of the infection.

When the virus enters your body, it will nest at the roots of your nerves, along the spinal cord. It will stay latent (non-active) until your immune system becomes weak enough to let it travel along the nerves and reach the surface of the skin. There it replicates and results in the blisters we talked about.

As you can only treat and manage the symptoms, it is best that you do so as soon as possible, especially if you are going through your first outbreak. This is because the first time when the virus becomes symptomatic, it can be a real nuisance due to the fever and pain that accompanies it. Treat the fever and aches like you would treat the flu. For the blisters and rashes, there are several ointments that can help them go away.

Not all ointments work well. I have had luck with Abreva and not much else. Abreva helps most when I can feel like I am going to get an outbreak, i.e. I feel my lips tingling or I am feeling completely exhausted. Using Abreva at these times helps me prevent an outbreak from even starting.

If you have already had an outbreak, Abreva is clinically proven to help reduce to duration of your cold sore symptoms by 1-2 days.

Taking antiviral medication is also recommended. This prevents the herpes simplex 1 virus from becoming symptomatic and causing another outbreak. Keeping a strong immune system by abiding to a healthy lifestyle will ensure that the virus stays latent and not bother you.

Herpes Simplex 2

The herpes simplex 2 virus or HSV-2 is a form of the herpes virus. The other form is HSV-1 which is commonly responsible for cold sores. The HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. Studies show that in about 80% of patients, the HSV-2 causes genital herpes, while the other 20% end up with just cold sores. This percentage can vary in teens due to the practice of oral intercourse which can pass the HSV-2 from the genital area to the mouth area.


While cold sores are common and visible, the herpes simplex 2 virus can be a little more problematic. When it becomes symptomatic, it can be easily confused with other opportunistic infections like jock itch or vaginal yeast infections.

HSV-2 is generally regarded as a STD (sexually transmitted disease). After infection has occurred, it takes anywhere from four days to a whole week for the virus to become symptomatic. The first time you will experience an outbreak, you are most likely to notice some flu symptoms like fever, muscle pain in the legs and swollen lymph glands.

A mild rash will appear at first. Itching sensations are also common, along with possible difficulty in urinating. Blisters filled with liquid will appear causing even more itching in the area. The blisters will burst eventually causing painful, itchy sores. Without treatment, it usually takes a full two weeks for them to heal. This time can be shorter, depending on how healthy you are and on the status of your immune system.

If you are experiencing any of these herpes symptoms, it is best to avoid sexual contact until after you treat them. Or if you are not sure whether it is genital herpes or not, the best thing to do is go to a doctor so he or she can give you an accurate diagnosis. Engaging in intercourse during an outbreak will result in you infecting your partner.

Treatment, prevention and possible complications

As with any type of herpes, the herpes simplex 2 virus is an untreatable condition. Once the virus settles in your body, it will remain latent there for the rest of your life. But when it does cause an outbreak, you have the option of treating the symptoms.

Antiviral medication is the sure way to go, especially if you are going through your first outbreak. Along with some pain managing medication and ointments for the blisters or sores, you should be fine in no time. There is no way of knowing if another outbreak will occur ever again – but there are methods in which you can reduce the risk of it happening. Maintaining proper hygiene, healthy diet and lifestyle and a strong immune system will help you on the long run in preventing further outbreaks.

The problem with the herpes simplex 2 virus is the fact that it can be mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Studies show that out of the 50 million US citizens who are suffering from this infection, 90% of them do not even know they have it. If a person with a compromised immune system (HIV, AIDS, liver cancer patients) gets infected, they are exposed to serious complications in case treatment is not applied immediately.

Herpes Zoster

Herpes Zoster also known as herpes shingles is a viral disease that is related to the chickenpox (varicella zoster) and not the herpes simplex virus (cold sores, genital herpes). This is a common mistake because the rash symptoms of herpes zoster as similiar to those presented in a herpes outbreak.

The incidence of shingles outbreaks occurs in 1-3 people per every thousand each year. If you are above the age of 65, there can be 3-12 instances per 1000 every year. This is why the herpes shingles virus a big concern in older populations.


If you were infected with chickenpox as a child, even after chickenpox have subsided, the virus does remain in the body. It will stay dormant in your nervous system. This virus may never reactivate itself in your body, but sometimes it does and when it reoccurs it causes shingles. These outbreaks can come many years after the initial infection and has very different symptoms from childhood chickenpox.

Even if you were never infected with chickenpox as a child, you can still be infected as an adult. This is why as an adult you should take extra caution around children that may be infected with the virus as the symptoms will be worse than in a child.

Usually a person will initially suffer from headache, fever, and malaise often followed by burning pain, itching and over sensitivity. In children, the disease tends not to be painful, but as you get older, the symptoms are more painful. Persons with a herpes shingles outbreak will suffer from a painful rash that can often involve blistering. This can appear anywhere from 1-2 days up to 3 weeks after the initial symptoms.

Herpes zoster is mostly found on the trunk but can also be found on the face and limbs. It often has a belt like appearance and is limited to only one side of body. For example, if you have a rash on the right side of your torso, it will not spread to the left side of your torso.


Shingles is treatment with antiviral drugs which can reduce the duration as well as the severity of the herpes zoster outbreak. Treatment is most effective if the antivirals are taken within 72 hours of the initial outbreak. Treatment can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

Herpes Symptoms

Herpes Symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people infected with the virus (carriers) never even have outbreaks of the common herpes signs. So what are the common symptoms of herpes and are you infected with the virus?

Am I Infected With The Herpes Virus?

Being infected with the herpes virus is no picnic. I myself have suffered from herpes since I was a toddler back in the 80s. So I have live with the virus for quite some time now and know loads about the virus and what it feels and looks like. Obviously, the best way to identify if you are truly infected with the herpes virus is to see your primary care physician. There are herpes blood tests that can be done to see which strain of the virus you are infected with.

Herpes Simplex I, also known as cold sores, is most commonly found on the or around the mouth. So I will stick with the symptoms found there. Most of the time, infected people can tell when they are going to have an outbreak. People often complain of:

  • Tingling Lips
  • Fever or hot spot on the lips

I personally know that if my lips are tingling that I am at risk for an outbreak. Remember, the virus stays in your nervous system, so you can feel when something isn’t right. Often, when you feel tingling, that does not mean you are going to have an outbreak. I find that when I get tingling I am often able to avoid and outbreak with some over the counter topical creams and a good night’s sleep.

If you feel a warm spot on your lips (why cold sores are sometimes called fever blister), then you are likely to have an outbreak of blisters in the next few hours. Starting to medicate at this point can help reduce symptoms but will not stop the outbreak.

The blisters will form on or around you mouth. These will look like crops of small zits (the herpes rash) at first that will then combined into one or multiple larger blisters. The blisters will often itch and/or burn. It is best not to touch the blisters and do not pop them! I once popped a cold sore that I thought was a zit and I had the worst outbreak of my life. I had basically spread the virus all over my lip. The best thing to do is to get some medication that helps reduce these herpes symptoms.

Genital Herpes – Herpes Simplex II Symptoms

Herpes Simplex II also known as genital herpes is very uncomfortable due to the location on very sensitive tissue. I have heard from people that are infected with the virus that it is was than oral herpes. Symptoms usually develop 3-7 days after skin to skin contact.

The blisters are not always painful, but they can be in some persons. It can also burn when you urinate depending on what stage the blisters are in. Vaginal discharge can be caused by genital herpes if they are found inside the vagina. Genital herpes can also spread towards the anus. This is more likely in woman due to the close proximity of the anus and the vagina.

Herpes Rash and Fever Blisters

The herpes rash is one of the first symptoms of a herpes simplex virus outbreak. In this article we will explore how can we become infected with the virus and what are its symptoms.

Transmission and symptoms

When someone comes in contact with an HSV-1 or HSV-2 infected person, the virus will take the opportunity to travel from one person to the other. It does this through small lesions in the skin or through the mucosa. Reaching the nerve endings, the herpes virus travels along them until it reaches their roots near the spinal cord. There it will start multiplying and wait for the opportunity to attack. This opportunity comes when our immune system is slower than usual due to stress, malnutrition and if certain amino acids are present. There is one such amino acid called arginine that helps the herpes replicate – avoiding foods which contain this amino acid might help prevent outbreaks.

When the virus is ready to attack our body, it will travel back through the nerves and reach the surface of the skin. This is when blister rash appears. In reaching the skin, the virus triggers a reaction from our body which tries to fight it off. A mild rash that will usually be accompanied by fever is the first sign of a herpes infection. These symptoms usually appear during the first week after infection and the first outbreak is more intense than the ones which will follow.

The herpes rash itself does not last longer than 4 days before the blisters start to appear. These blisters will become filled with liquid more and more until the pop, leaving sores in their place. It is important that they are not confused with canker sores in the case of cold sores. To determine whether you truly have herpes, try to wait a while – canker sores heal faster and do not produce serious symptoms like fever, muscle pain and swollen lymph glands.


There is no permanent treatment for herpes. The only thing to do is treat the symptoms so that the outbreak will not bother your usual lifestyle too much. Usually, with treatment, you can get rid of all symptoms within a week. When it comes to a herpes rash, there are a few home remedies that should help you fight off the itching or burning sensation: using ice on the affected area, putting some baking soda on the rash in order to dry it out or just clean the area with mild soap a few times a day. Using a cold tea bag can also help due to the tannic acid present in the tea that will alleviate the symptoms.

For the genital herpes rash, antiviral medication is highly recommended because it is more serious than cold sores and can lead to complications, including herpes encephalitis. But out of the home treatments that you can use, peppermint tea is recommended in order to reduce fever. Fresh milk poured on the affected area will accelerate healing. A healthy diet and lifestyle will improve your immune system and reduce the possibility of outbreaks.

Herpes Pain

Herpes pain is not always a symptom of the herpes virus. It can really depend on where the outbreak is and how bad the outbreak is. I have heard from friends that genital herpes is a lot more painful than oral herpes due to the sensitivity of the genital area.

For genital herpes, pain can be caused by the blisters themselves, but as they ooze and break, urination, especially in females, can agitate the already sensitive skin. This can cause burning pain in the genitals. Unfortunately for genital herpes sufferers, there are not many medications out there to help deal with pain.

Essential Oils

Lemon balm oil and tea tree oil have be shown to be effective is helping with genital herpes pain as well as in preventing future outbreaks. Plantlike sells 100% Pure Essential Lemon Oil. Lemon oil has been shown in Germany to help reduce the severity and duration of herpes outbreaks. As mentioned earlier, Tea Tree Oil can be effective in managing herpes outbreaks.

OTC Medications

If you suffer from oral herpes, there are many cold sore remedies available over the counter that can help manage symptoms like pain, itching and burning. You can also try the essential oils mentioned above, but I recommend looking into Abreva Cold Sore Treatment and H-Balm which I have reviewed on this site.

I personally use Abreva but know many of my friends that swear by H-balm. H-balm also makes preventative solutions to apply between outbreaks while Abreva is more for while you are having an outbreak. But make sure to check them both out and decided for yourself.

You can also talk with your doctor about prescription medications that may be effective in treating your outbreaks.

Stages of Herpes Outbreak

The stages of a herpes outbreak can vary in severity from person to person and from outbreak to outbreak. Becoming familiar with the various stages of a herpes outbreak can greatly reduce your chances of spreading the virus to someone else. This is especially important if you are in a relationship with someone else.

Stages of Herpes

stages of herpes, herpes outbreak, prodrome phase, stages of herpes outbreak

1. Prodrome Phase:

The prodrome phase is the first stage of a herpes outbreak. At this stage, the body will start giving off signals that you are going to have an outbreak. At this point, the virus has become activated and starts moving towards to surface of the skin. You will usually feel tingling of the lips or in the genital area, pain or heat, and possibly lower energy. These are some of the symptoms. For me, I usually feel the tingling sensation a week or two before I even have an outbreak. So this is an important warning sign. You will begin shedding virus at this stage so it is possible to infect someone with the virus.

2. Vesicle State:

At this stage, small blisters begin to form. This is the first physical signs of an outbreak. These blisters will also look like small zits at first. They will be filled with a liquid and can be sensitive to touch as well as itch and burn. The liquid is full of reproducing virus, so at the next few stages of a herpes outbreak you are highly contagious and should be very careful.

3. Ulcerating Blisters:

At this point, the blisters are getting much larger as the smaller blisters combine into large liquid filled blisters The skin around and under the blisters will become highly agitated. You can have severe swelling of the genital area at this point as well as swelling of the lips for oral herpes. I know sometimes I feel like I have a fat lip.

The blisters will eventually break and start to ooze. I find this very uncomfortable. The virus is escaping your body at this point so you should be very careful not to kiss anyone or share food or drink with anyone. You should not be doing this at all during an outbreak, but especially not at this point.

4. Scabbing:

After some time, your blisters will scab over. This can be painful if the scabs crack and bleed. It is a good idea to keep your lips moist at this point with some lip balm or Vaseline.

5. Healing

After the stages of a herpes outbreak, your scab will fall off an leave behind a raw looking piece of skin. After time, this skin will return back to normal. This whole process could take anywhere from 7-14 days depending on the severity of the outbreak and you treatment of the virus.

There are a number of remedies to treat herpes that you can check out. Not every remedy works for everyone. I personally like Abreva Cream to manage my symptoms.

Symptoms Genital Herpes

Symptoms genital herpes. Genital herpes symptoms may not be apparent on the first outbreak. Many people complain of flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, and swollen lymph nodes, so one can never really be sure when they have contracted the virus. It is usually on subsequent outbreaks that the virus makes itself more known.

If you are trying to determine whether or not you have been infected with genital herpes, the best thing to do is to see your doctor. Herpes is not a medical emergency, but the earlier you start treatment, the less severe the symptoms and the duration of an outbreak can be.

Symptoms Genital Herpes

After the initial outbreak, symptoms will be less flu-like and you will likely get herpes sores.

In men, herpes lesions or sores appear around the head of the penis.

In women, the lesions may be visible outside the vagina, but often times they occur inside the vagina. This can cause vaginal discharge and discomfort. You will not know if you have genital herpes internally. Only a doctor’s exam would be able to reveal the sores.

Due to the location of the virus, urination can often be painful and cause a burning sensation. Many people often feel tingling sensations in the genital area before an outbreak occurs. This is caused by inflammation of the nerve endings from the virus.

At this point, you will not see any sores but you are still contagious as the body is shedding the virus. The best way to prevent spreading the virus during the period is through the use of anti-viral medications. You can talk with your doctor about what medications might be best for you.

It is often fairly common that persons with genital herpes can develop anal herpes. This is especially true for women where the vaginal opening is very close to the anus. Having good hygiene practices is a must whenever you have a herpes outbreak.

Millions of people live with herpes and have happy and healthy relationships. Be honest with your partner and be observant of when you feel like you are going to have an outbreak. You will get very good at listening to your body.

Herpes Symptoms In Men

Herpes symptoms in men will not vary much from symptoms in women. Men can be infected with both herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). There are no statistics that show that there are more men or women infected with the virus. But research shows that men are less likely to pass on the type 2 virus (genital herpes) if they wear a condom. Concerning the intensity of the herpes outbreak, men and and women will experience pretty much the same symptoms and the same degree of discomfort.

Transmission and symptoms of herpes in men

A man can get infected with the virus if he comes in contact with a person who has the virus and experiences symptoms. If the virus is present in someone but it is not causing an outbreak at the moment of contact, chances are that the healthy person will not get the virus. This is because when the virus becomes symptomatic, it will develop into surface rashes, blisters or sores. In the affected area, there are a lot of viral particles which ease the transmission of the virus.

Cold Sores

Cold sores symptoms in men and women are the same. They form around or in the mouth, are painful and itchy and can cause serious discomfort. They appear as blisters filled with fluid which burst and cause small sores. The first outbreak will usually be a lot more severe than the following outbreaks.

Genital Herpes

When the HSV-2 infection occurs, also known as genital herpes, things start to differ from men to women because of the differences in anatomy. Genital herpes in men will present itself as small blisters or sores, usually on the tip of the penis. This is why men, if wearing a condom during intercourse, are less likely to pass on the virus, even if they have sexual contact during an outbreak. Women will experience the sores or blisters anywhere around the genital area and have more chances of transmitting it to a partner. Even so, it is advisable for both men and women to refrain from sexual contact during outbreaks due to high risks of contagion.


Treatment of herpes symptoms in men and women is the same. Antiviral medication should be administered to prevent outbreaks and manage symptoms. There is no permanent cure for the herpes simplex virus – only the symptoms can be managed and treated. Along with the antiviral treatment, there are also topical treatments available.

They are usually ointments that are applied directly on the blisters or sores in order to relieve the discomfort. Home remedies like ice, cold tea bags and baking soda can be applied.

The virus also relies on a certain amino acid called arginine to replicate. Try refraining from arginine-rich foods like nuts, seeds, coconut, chocolate, brown rice and peanut butter. Lysine is another amino acid that inhibits arginine in the organism and you should eat a lot of foods containing it like: eggs, most vegetables or fruits, papaya, tomatoes, fish, beef, lamb and chicken.

A healthy lifestyle is crucial in order to keep a strong immune system that will have a chance at holding back the virus from causing an outbreak.

Herpes Itch

Getting rid of that herpes itch is one of the best things you can do when treating your herpes symptoms. Your symptoms will really depend on the strain of the herpes virus you are infected with, what stage of the outbreak you are in, as well as on how each individual outbreak is managed.

It is very common for herpes cold sores to itch and burn. This really can be aggravating and uncomfortable especially in the early stages of an outbreak when the blisters are starting to form. The best thing to do is get some medication on your blisters as soon as possible.

best cold sore treatment, abreva, herpes treatment, herpes itch

I personally like to use Abreva Cold Sore/Fever Blister Treatment. This stuff tingles when you first put it on, but it really does help to alleviate my symptoms. Abreva is also clinically proven to reduce the duration of your outbreaks and help in the healing process.

Abreva can be hit of miss at preventing an outbreak. On very few occasions, I have been able to reduce my outbreaks to about 3-5 days of healing time with Abreva. This happened when I caught the virus very early on. This does not always work. Other times, I have caught the virus early and still had a bad outbreak. It really depends on the outbreak and your immune system at the time.

I definitely use Abreva to prevent outbreaks when I feel my lips tingling. This is often a sign that I will be having an outbreak soon so I medicate before the virus has a chance to get out of my nervous system. I have found (for myself personally) that using Abreva to prevents outbreak has worked 100% of the time when I feel the tingling coming on.

Oral Herpes Symptoms

Oral herpes symptoms can be very uncomfortable. The majority of oral herpes outbreaks are caused by the Herpes Simplex I virus, but on occasion, a person will become infected orally with the Herpes Simplex Virus II (more common with genital herpes).

The most common oral herpes symptoms include:

  • Tingling of the lips
  • Blisters
  • A fever spot on the lips
  • Burning and Itching
  • Pain from cracked blisters

Fortunately there are many over-the-counter medications, like Abreva, that can help minimize the symptoms of an outbreak and alleviate itching and burning. Abreva is also clinically proven to shorten the duration of an outbreak.

Many times, you will be able to know when you are going to have a herpes outbreak before blisters even form. Common oral herpes symptoms that come before an outbreak include tingling on the lips or a hot spot on the lip. This is why cold sores are often referred to as fever blisters, because the skin becomes very warm to the touch.

When an outbreak occurs, small herpes blisters will form. These are often very small and many times can be mistaken for a zit. I do not recommend popping your blisters as you can spread the virus and the infection further. It is best to talk with your doctor on how to treat your herpes infections. If you think you have a zit, wait until the end of the day to pop it. If it is a herpes blister, by the end of the day the size of the blister will double or even triple.

The small blisters usually form into small clusters that then combine to form a large blister. After a few days the blisters will break causing the sores to ooze. These can be very uncomfortable and painful. Once the blisters ooze, they will start to scab over and heal. If the scabs crack, your lips could bleed so it is a good idea to keep your lips moisturized.

When the infection finishes, the scab will fall off leaving behind a spot of fresh skin in its place. This spot will eventually return back to your normal skin color and it will appear like you never had an outbreak. Do not pick at your blisters or you could cause permanent scarring. If you leave the blisters to heal normally, there will be no scarring of your lips. I have had the virus my whole life and have not been scared from numerous outbreaks. I know it stinks, but you just have to be patient.

Hygiene is very important with any herpes outbreak. Washing you hands after medication or after you touch a sore can go a long way in preventing further infections to yourself and others. It is often recommended that you change your toothbrush after each infection heals.

No cure exists for herpes but there are many remedies and treatments out on the market today that can help reduce outbreak symptoms and healing time. Antivirals can also help prevent and manage the number of outbreaks you have a year. Diet also plays an important role in reducing the number of outbreaks you have each year.

Herpes Blisters

Herpes blisters are not fun by any means. The blisters can itch and burn causing your herpes outbreaks to be very uncomfortable. Fortunately there are many over-the-counter medications, like Abreva, that can help minimize the symptoms of an outbreak.

Many times, you will be able to know when you are going to have a herpes outbreak before blisters even form. Many people feel a tingling on the lips or a hot spot on their lip. This is why cold sores are often referred to as fever blisters, because the skin becomes very warm to the touch.

When an outbreak occurs, small herpes blisters will form. These are often very small and many times can be mistaken for a zit. You will become more familiar with what herpes looks like, but I always tend to be cautious even if it is just a zit.

The small blisters usually form into small clusters. You could have one cluster or many clusters depending on how bad of an outbreak you have. These small clusters then combined to form into one larger blister that is filled with a clear or yellowish liquid. Some people swear by draining their sores, that is really up to you. I tend to just let the natural healing process take its course with the help of medication. One time I thought I had a zit and popped it. I then put lip balm on my lips. I had one of the worst infections of my life because I had spread the virus all over my mouth not knowing it was a blister. So proceed with caution when popping blisters.

Hygiene is very important with any herpes outbreak. Washing you hands after medication or after you touch a sore can go a long way in preventing further infections to yourself and others. It is often recommended that you change your toothbrush after each infection heals.

Herpes Testing

A herpes blood test can be administered to a patient that thinks they might be infected with herpes. There are various ways to test for herpes and in the following article, we shall explore these possibilities, when are they needed and their success rate. But first let us talk about common symptoms of the herpes simplex virus to see if testing is right for you.

A patient does not usually need a herpes blood test because there are some obvious symptoms that are associated with the infection. A doctor can usually rule whether or not you are infected by the virus based on your symptoms.

Herpes simplex is transmitted through direct contact with another infected person. The virus enters the body and travels along the nerves until it reaches their roots along the spinal cord. There it multiplies and will remain latent for anywhere between four and seven days. When it manifests in what is called an outbreak, then symptoms like blisters can appear around the mouth for oral herpes or around the genital area for genital herpes. The blisters are usually small and packed together. They will burst in a short while causing painful sores.

Determining whether it is truly herpes or not

So you may be experiencing some of these symptoms, but is it really herpes?

Canker sores are often mistaken for oral herpes as are genital warts for genital herpes. In order to accurately determine which of the two a patient is suffering from, a herpes blood test or viral culture can be performed.

Viral Swab Test

The most common tests that are done on a suspected herpes patient are the viral cultures. Using a swab, a doctor will take samples from the infected area and a viral culture will then establish whether it is truly herpes simplex. This method is pretty straightforward and can even determine if the virus is herpes simplex type 1 or 2.

Even so, if the virus has already retracted from the infected area then sensitivity will drop and the viral culture will show nothing. Several viral cultures are needed to accurately determine an infection. An antigen test can also be used to diagnose the patient. The antigen test works by detecting antigens from a swab of the sore. It is faster for a culture of the virus is not needed and often less expensive, but less accurate than a viral culture.

Blood Test For Herpes

Another way of testing herpes is through a herpes blood test. When the herpes invades your body, it will be seen as an intruder and you will start producing antibodies in order to fight it off. These antibodies will be present in your blood and a sample can reveal their presence.

The problem with this blood test is the fact that it usually fails to determine whether you have the herpes simplex type 1 or 2 virus. Also, there is a risk that if you take the blood test too early there will be no antibodies to find, for they were not released by the body yet. The good thing is that if you are indeed infected, it does not matter whether you present symptoms or not – the antibodies will be there even if the virus is latent.

Spinal Tap

In extreme cases, a spinal tap can be done in order to extract spinal fluid. The fluid is then analyzed and searched for the presence of the herpes simplex DNA. This test is called a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) and it is painful and expensive, but it can give accurate results in a short time. Also, the PCR test can determine whether it is the virus behind cold sores or genital herpes.

If you suspect that you may have been infected with the herpes virus, get in touch with your doctor and avoid sexual activity.

Is There a “Cure” for Herpes?

Scientists are still looking for a viable herpes cure. While there are many treatments available that can manage the virus and its symptoms, a definitive cure has yet to be found. In order to better understand the situation, let us have a look at what herpes is exactly and how it can be managed.

Unfortunately, at the present time, there is no real herpes cure. However, there are a multitude of options concerning symptom management and prevention that greatly benefit those who either have the virus or just want to stay away from it.

As with any disease, the most important thing to consider it hygiene. Be weary of yours and your partner’s and you should be fine. Also, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet will ensure that your immune system is in top notch condition and able to deal with the virus and possible outbreaks.

If you do catch it, treatments are available just about everywhere in the world. Antiviral medication is probably the best way to go in order to ensure dealing with symptoms. Topical treatments are also a valid option. They consist mostly of ointments that are applied directly on the infected area and deal with the virus directly, removing it from the affected skin. These topical treatments are usually the best way to go if you fear side effects from medication. Typical healing time with ointments is somewhere around 3 days.

When to expect the cure?

As stated above, a definitive herpes cure is not available at the moment. But with all the medical advancements made in the past few years towards finding one, there is little reason to deny the possibility that we might benefit from one in the near future. Medical researchers are striving to find a way to destroy the virus altogether, thus rendering humans immune to it through inoculation.

But there is no reason to panic until then. Modern treatments can handle the herpes virus and let you have a normal, happy life by managing the symptoms. I have lived with the virus for my entire life, and have been in great relationships. Your virus is not the end of everything.

When to expect a vaccine?

European countries have already started several programs in order to find a cure for herpes. There are a few herpes vaccines out there right now that look promising, but, there is always a but, they they are showing very little or limited results. Most companies will not invest in a vaccine unless big results are seen.

The main focus of such a vaccine would be to make us immune to the virus altogether. While it is true that a strong immune system can mean the difference between getting infected or not, having an antibody that will be administered through a herpes vaccine would mean that we would have to be less concerned with getting the virus. Much like the recent HPV vaccine being administered.

There is good news for those of us already infected with the herpes simplex virus. Scientists are working on finding a cure for the virus. The is a hard thing to do given that anywhere from 80-90% of those infected with the virus do not even know that they have it. None-the-less, progress is progress and as a sufferer myself, any thing to rid the world of this virus would be fine by me.

There are about 50 million Americans who suffer from genital herpes. Many more have this infection around the world and cold sores are even more common. A cure for herpes would have to provoke a powerful response from the immune system as soon as the virus is detected, before it reaches and settles in the spinal cord.

Things are looking up. With all the medical advancements over the last few years, there is no need to worry. First of all, the enormous efforts that are spent in order to find a vaccine should be comforting enough. Second of all, the infection is manageable through symptom treatment.

So keep your fingers crossed for a herpes cure. Since the virus is so wide spread, pharmaceutical companies stand to make a lot of money if they can find a cure or a vaccine. This gives them a lot of incentive to keep trying.

Herpes Treatment

Herpes treatment differs, depending on what kind of herpes infection a person is suffering from. There are two main types of the virus – herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). What we know as cold sores are usually generated by the HSV-1 while genital herpes is the result of HSV-2. Depending on which of these two a person suffers, herpes treatment should be sought after.

Th is not always the case. Sometimes HSV-1 be present on the genitals and vice versa due to oral sex practices. Your doctor, and a herpes blood tet can determine which strain of the virus you have.

Dealing With Symptoms

Unfortunately, at the moment, the only herpes treatment available is to deal with the symptoms of an outbreak. Most treatments, like anti viral drugs, focus on disrupting the outbreak before it really gets a chance to get going. These are oral medication like valtrex or acyclovir which can be very helpful.

I personally have tried Valtrex, but found it did not help that well unless I caught my symptoms very early. I know many people that are on acyclovir that swear by it, so check with your doctor.

When Your Infection Become Symptomatic

It might take up to a week for the infection to become symptomatic. At first you will notice a rash either around the mouth or genital area, depending on the type of virus you have contacted. Before the blisters make themselves noticeable, there are a few things you can do to alleviate discomfort from the rash. Putting ice on it and starting an antiviral herpes treatment is best for this stage.

Once the blisters appear, there is nothing you can do but resort to topical medication – ointments that you can put on the blisters to reduce swelling, itching and burning sensations.

The blisters will usually appear between two and four days after the rash. They last for a few days, after which they burst, leaving sores in their place. These sores are itchy and painful as any lesions of the skin would be. Again, topical medication along with antiviral medication can make them go away quicker, but if you are looking for home remedies, there are some things you can try:

  • Baking soda on the wounds will keep them dry and help healing
  • Fresh milk poured on them will facilitate healing
  • A cold tea bag (tannic acid) can be used to alleviate symptoms

During herpes treatment, the thing you must always consider is the fact that once you are done with the initial outbreak, others will follow. You are just treating the symptoms, not the disease. There is no known cure for herpes simplex. But there are methods in which you can prevent outbreaks from occurring often.

First of all, hygiene is crucial – wash hands often and keep infected areas clean in order to prevent the virus from spreading. A healthy diet that concentrates on a certain amino acid called lysine will help prevent outbreaks because it inhibits another amino acid called arginine. Arginine helps the virus replicate itself and creates the proper conditions for an outbreak – avoid arginine-rich foods.

Last but not least try to improve your lifestyle, along with your diet. Do this so that your immune system will be able to withstand an attack from the virus and keep it from causing outbreaks.

Herpes Treatment with Diet?

Pursuing a herpes diet can make a difference in managing your symptoms and preventing outbreaks. Medical treatment should be followed as well, but a healthy lifestyle to go with it will benefit your body.

I know personally, the best treatment I have even experienced for my herpes outbreak is managing my diet and my stress. I used to get outbreaks almost every month. Now that I monitor my stress and my diet, I can go a whole year without an outbreak.

Helping Your Immune System Fight Herpes With Lysine

The crucial thing behind these outbreaks is our immune system. The antibodies that our bodies release when the virus is detected cannot alone keep it at bay. We also need a strong immune system to fight off the virus and its symptoms. A herpes diet can help with that, being that it will provide the healthy nourishment we need.

While there is no treatment and no cure for herpes, there are methods to manage symptoms and prevent outbreaks. One of these methods is keeping herpes diet.

Studies and tests show that the herpes simplex virus depends on the presence of a certain amino acid called arginine in the body. Also, another amino acid called lysine will prevent arginine being stacked in our bodies, thus reducing the chances of outbreaks. Many persons suffering with herpes take lysine supplements to ensure they are getting enough lysine in their diet.

Following a good herpes diet means that an infected person should seek out foods rich in lysine and low in arginine. It is not a perfect science because because there are a lot of foods that contain both. The idea is to maintain a proper balance between the intake of arginine and lysine. Remember that this kind of diet will only reduce chances of outbreaks, not ensure you an outbreak-free life.

Foods that are rich in arginine should be avoided. These are:

nuts (especially walnuts), chocolate, seeds, oats, lentils, wheat germ, gelatin, carob, coconut, brown rice, peanut butter, caffeine or dried beans.

If you cannot let one or any of these foods go, then it is best to counter their arginine content with lysine-rich foods.

These lysine-rich foods are:

sprouts, tomatoes, eggs, papaya, mango, avocados, pears, apples, figs, apricots, beets, tomatoes, beef, chicken, fish, lamb and brewer’s yeast.

If you feel you cannot deal with rationing your food accordingly, you can seek out lysine supplements to help you. Also, taking Zinc and Vitamin C supplements will also reduce the frequency and intensity of outbreaks.

I personally found diet and rest to be the best treatment for the herpes virus. Listen to your body. You should have at least one day a week where you come home and just relax. I love walnuts myself, and used to eat them all the time in my yogurt. When I learned about how high walnuts are in arginine, I stopped eating them and my outbreaks greatly reduced in frequency from making that one change alone.

I know how frustrating it is, and I have tried so many things in the past, but I found the best treatment for me and my herpes was diet. You really have nothing to lose.

Cold Sore Remedies, Treatment and Medication

Numerous cold sore remedies, treatments, and medication exist on the market today. As a suffer from cold sores since the mid-80s, I have tried a handful of cold sore medications myself. Some have helped out, many have been less than stellar.

As a cold sore sufferer, let me preface this list of herpes treatments and medications by saying there is no cure for herpes. Herpes is a virus that becomes part of your body’s DNA. It usually stays dormant in your nervous system until triggered by some stress on your immune system. Research has come a long way and many antiviral medications are now available for you to take to manage your symptoms and reduce outbreaks, but these are by no means a cure.

Hopefully, science will find a cure for this virus in the near future, but until then, the following cold sore remedies are what I have found to work the best. You can click on each of the products below. I will detail my experience with the product, as well as some of my friends’ experiences (as I have many that have the herpes virus) with different types of cold sore medication.

Cold Sore Treatments

  • Abreva – My personal favorite cold sore remedy and treatment. I use this to prevent outbreaks as well as manage outbreaks when they do occur.
  • Releev – A decent product that I have used. This product can really help dry out cold sore blisters quickly.
  • H Balm – I have not used this product personally, but I know many people who swear by it and many friends have recommended it to me during an outbreak.
  • Carmex for Cold Sores – Carmex formulated for cold sores. Good for keeping your lips moisturized and can help with the burning and itching associated with outbreaks.
  • Lysine For Herpes – Lysine is a natural supplement that has been proven to reduce the chances of an outbreak if taken in the proper dosage with a proper diet. It can help you body fight an outbreak better.

Abreva Cold Sore Treatment

Abreva Cold Sore Treatment is personally one of my favorite medications to treat and manage my herpes symptoms. I always have a tube of Abreva cream available in my medicine cabinet. Now the big question is…

Does Abreva Work?

Abreva cold sore treatment is by no means a cure for the herpes virus. I personally use Abreva religiously and find that in most cases it helps with my herpes outbreaks. My doctor once prescribed Denavir cream for my outbreaks. I found that Abreva worked better than the prescription cream at managing my symptoms and outbreaks.

Can Abreva Stop An Outbreak?

If you wake up with the symptoms of a cold sore like a hot spot on your lip or the formation of small blisters, then you are going to have an outbreak. Abreva, depending on your immune system and at what point you apply the medication can help reduce the length of your outbreak and can help manage some of the symptoms associated with cold sores such as burning and itching.

Abreva is clinically tested and shown to reduce the duration of an outbreak by 1 day. That’s not a lot, but I have often reduced the length of my outbreaks to 3-5 days using Abreva. I often find that Abreva also helps to reduce the severity of my outbreaks as well. Now do not get me wrong, there are some times I catch my symptoms early and I still have a full blown outbreak. It really depends on how beat up your immune system is.

Abreva Helps Me Fight and Prevent Outbreaks

I use Abreva also as a preventative medication. I know when I am at risk of getting a cold sore because my lips will start tingling a week or two before. Whenever I have this sensation of tingling, I immediately apply Abreva to my lips. This seems to stop the herpes virus in my nervous system before it gets to the surface of my lips.

I do not know if there are studies on the preventative success of Abreva, but, I found that I never had a cold sore outbreak when I applied Abreva during the very early symptoms (tingling) of a herpes outbreak. By using Abreva as a preventative cold sore treatment, I have been able to go from having outbreaks every other month to once a year. So whether or not there is proof of this, it works for me.

Now just because Abreva works for me does not mean it is going to work the same for you. The virus might behave differently in your body than it does in mine. But, I know personally I would get very bad outbreaks every other month, sometimes twice a month when I wasn’t using Abreva cold sore treatment.

Abreva is a little bit on the expensive side, but it’s worth trying once. Also, if you buy Abreva online, you can usually save money off of buying in the store. If you have a Target near where you live, I often find that Abreva is cheaper there than at my local pharmacy stores.

Releev Cold Sore Treatment

Releev cold sore treatment claims to relieve (clever name huh?) cold sore symptoms in just one day. It helps to reduce and eliminate the pain and itching associated with cold sores in 24 hours. Now the big question is…

Does Releev Work?

Releev cold sore treatment is by no means a cure for the herpes virus. I have personally used this medication myself and found that yes it did help to relieve the itching and burning sensations associated with my outbreak, but it did not really do much else.

Compared to my favorite cold sore remedy Abreva, I found this product not worth the money. Abreva helps to relieve my symptoms but also helps in the healing process and can help prevent outbreaks (at least for me it does).

I found this medication to a little too invasive too. It really smells a lot and because there is Zinc in it, it comes out as a brown liquid. This liquid is then applied to your face, so where ever you place the product, your skin turns brown. Not exactly subtle. At least Abreva can be blended in so no one really knows you are trying to treat and outbreak. You can check out my Abreva review for more details on my experience with the medication.


Releev is not cheap either. This medication costs almost as much as Abreva and I find it does not really help that much. Does that mean this product will not work for you? No. There are many people who actually like this product. Because of the Zinc and other active ingredients in this product, your cold sores tend to try out a little quicker. I have also found that you can get the same drying effect by using apple cider vinegar, something else I have tried.

I would do a little research before buying this product, but if you would like to check out other people’s reviews of this product you can go to and check out what people are saying about this product there.

H Balm For Herpes

I have friends that swear by H Balm for their herpes outbreaks as well as for the prevention and management of the herpes virus, both genital and oral. It is an all natural remedy for herpes treatment. It is made up of essential oils including Melissa or lemon balm essential oil.

These oils are said to reduce the severity and duration of an outbreak. The essential oils have anti-viral properties that not only fight the virus during an outbreak, but also fight it before you have an outbreak. I personally have never tried this product, so I can not give my personal take on it. But I have had many friends recommend this to me that swear by it.

Does H-Balm Work?

H Balm for Herpes has both a preventative daily medication as well as a an Extra Strength Outbreak Eliminator Formula for when you are actually having an outbreak.

From what I have read online and what I have heard from family and friends that use this product, is that it seems to be fairly effective at drying up the cold sores and speeding up the healing process. This product can also be used to prevent an outbreak, if applied during the very early signs of an outbreak – i.e. the tingling sensation felt on one’s lips.

Now this does not mean this product will work for everyone. I know I have tried products that work wonders for people but never worked for me. If you would like to read more about H-Balm, you can check out reviews at before making a decision to buy this product.

Another product that I recommend you check out is Abreva. This is a product that I do use personally and it does not have a strong smell like I have read with H-Balm.

Carmex Lip Balm For Cold Sores

carmex lip balm, carmex cold sore/figure>

Carmex lip balm for cold sores is made by my favorite lip balm producerers Carmex. Carmex contains menthol, camphor, alum, salicylic acid, phenol, petrolatum, lanolin, cocoa butter, and a wax base. Now the big question is…

Does Carmex Work?

Carmex for Cold Sores can help in the healing process of your herpes outbreaks, but really does nothing to help prevent them. The lip balm does help alleviate the pain and itching associated with outbreaks but nothing else.

This is a great product to use towards the end of your outbreaks after the blisters break and start to dry up. Once blisters dry, they can crack, bleed and become very painful. Carmex can help ensure that your skin in moisturized and will help minimize breakage and bleeding.

If you have ever had a cold sore at the corner of your mouth, you will know that it is not pleasant when that cracks and bleeds. Using Carmex on an open sore can cause burning in itself, so you might be better off with a regular lip balm or some petroleum jelly to help keep your lips from cracking.

Compared to my favorite cold sore remedy Abreva, I find Carmex to not be worth the money. Abreva helps to relieve my symptoms but also helps in the healing process and can help prevent outbreaks (at least for me it does). Abreva does cost a lot more than the Carmex lip balm for cold sores, but at least Abreva can help you manage your symptoms, reduce healing time, and help prevent outbreaks.


Personally, I would pass on this product. There are not a lot of benefits to using it other than it costs a lot less than many of the other alternative medication for cold sores.

Natural Treatments for Herpes

Usually, antiviral medication is recommended, along with topical treatment through ointments for the blisters, rashes or sores. There is no known permanent cure for herpes, only products that will help alleviate or heal symptoms that are linked to the herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2.

Once the herpes cause an outbreak, antiviral medication is prescribed and administered. But there are some side effects that might intimidate some people so they seek a natural approach to dealing with herpes. Luckily enough, there are plenty of promising products out there that can help alleviate and manage symptoms of herpes like rashes, blisters and sores.

Tea Tree Oil is very popular lately in managing outbreaks. For the sores, in order to make them go away faster, you can use baking soda which will keep them dry and cure them faster. Also, placing a cold tea bag on the blisters will numb some discomfort. This works because of tannic acid that is found in tea which alleviates itching and pain.

Another very popular product among the natural cures for herpes is a certain herb called Prunella Vulgaris. Recent research shows that it may inhibit the virus from causing frequent outbreaks and reduce the number of lesions that come with an outbreak. Lemon balm is also considered to diminish the frequency of outbreaks.

While all these natural cures might have their part to play, it is really important to know that nothing is better than modern medicine and unless a so-called “natural” product has been approved by the medical society, it is best to keep away from it. There is no cure for herpes, only methods through which we can manage and treat symptoms.

However, there is a natural way of combating most of the herpes symptoms while still staying healthy and risk-free. Studies show that a healthy diet consisting of lysine-rich foods will stop the virus from being able to replicate and cause outbreaks. lysine supplements are easy to find and are relatively inexpensive.

Lysine is an amino acid found in certain types of foods. Its role in our body is to regulate the amount of arginine, another amino acid which is responsible for helping the herpes simplex multiply. Arginine-rich foods like nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, coconut and seeds should be avoided, while lysine-rich foods like tomatoes, beef, fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables, milk, dairy products and eggs should be sought instead.

But the most important out of the natural cures for herpes is our very own body and immune system. Try to live a healthy life, have a healthy diet and watch your everyday hygiene and you should be fine.

Lysine For Herpes

Consuming Lysine for herpes prevention is a natural way to supplement your diet and boost your immune systems ability to fight the herpes virus. In the following article, we will learn the basics behind the herpes infection, as well as talk about the lysine amino acid supplements and how it can prevent herpes outbreaks.

About herpes and how lysine can help you

Herpes, medically known as the herpes simplex virus, is an infection that is responsible for cold sores and genital herpes. It is highly contagious – studies show that over 50 million Americans have genital herpes. Countless more have cold sores in the US and around the world. This mass spreading of the virus happens due to the virus’ versatile nature and ability to overcome our body’s defenses. Also, there are a lot of cases in which the virus remains asymptomatic, the person infected not even knowing he or she is sick.

Lysine Supplements

Using lysine for herpes means adhering to a diet high in lysine and low in arginine, often called a herpes diet. Lysine is an amino acid that is found in some foods and can also be taken as a lysine supplement. Recent scientific research shows that lysine levels help control arginine levels in the body. Arginine is another amino acid that helps the herpes simplex virus to multiply and cause an outbreak.

Like lysine, arginine is found in some types of foods.

Foods that are abundant in lysine include:

  • most vegetables and fruits
  • papaya
  • milk and dairy products
  • eggs
  • tomatoes
  • chicken, beef, lamb, and fish
  • sprouts
  • beets

Some of these foods contain arginine as well, but, the important thing to look after is the ratio between lysine and arginine levels in the food you eat. Make sure that the lysine levels well exceed the arginine levels.

Foods that are rich in the arginine amino acid include:

  • nuts
  • chocolate
  • coconut
  • oats
  • lentils
  • peanut butter
  • wheat germ
  • gelatin
  • carob
  • seeds
  • whole wheat
  • white flour
  • brown rice

All these foods should be consumed with caution and preferably with lysine-rich foods. The more arginine is your body, the greater your risk of having and outbreak. I know when I used to eat lots of walnuts, I would have an outbreak almost every month. It was embarrassing. I decided to adjust my eating habits and stopped eating nuts. I did not have an outbreak for a whole year! That’s pretty impressive. So reducing arginine in your system can help.

Using lysine for herpes treatment could prove beneficial for you. If you find that you have trouble balancing your eating habits or giving up foods you love, you can get extra lysine into your system through lysine supplments. Vitamin C and Zinc supplements can also boost your immune system and help prevent the virus from causing frequent outbreaks.

Research has found that taking 1000mg of L-lysine a day (usually 2 pills) can help reduce the symptoms of an outbreak and even reduce the number of outbreaks you have in a year. I have used lysine in the past, but often found that the main triggers for my outbreaks were lack of sleep and stress. While I think watching your diet is important (I no longer eat walnuts of almonds), getting plenty of rest and having one day of relaxation is just as important.

Herpes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In this section we have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Herpes virus.

Is Dating Someone With Herpes Safe?

In order to fully understand the risks behind dating someone with herpes, we need to understand how the virus works, how it is transmitted from one person to the other and how it can be prevented from causing outbreaks.

I have never transmitted herpes.

To put some of you at ease, I have been in a number of relationships over the years and have never transmitted the virus to a partner. This is because I am very responsible with my virus and my infections. If you or your partner take your infections seriously, the chances of spreading the virus are very small. Usually, if the virus is spread it will occur within the first 6 months of a relationship.

The herpes simplex virus

Once a healthy person comes into contact with a herpes simplex infected person, there is a risk that the healthy person will become infected as well. This is especially true when an infected person is in the outbreak phase.

Once the virus gets to a healthy person, it will start a journey along the nerves until it reaches their roots along the spinal cord. There it will settle and start to multiply. Our body is not equipped to deal with the virus, although it will try. When herpes simplex is detected, we will produce antibodies which will try and fight it off. This is the moment when we might experience fevers and headaches, sort of like having the flu. Usually, this only happens in the first week, right after we have been infected with the virus. Dating someone with herpes can be risky from this stage forward.


Once settled and multiplied, the virus will wait for the opportune moment to start traveling again along the nerves to the area which it will affect. This is the start of an outbreak. Once the virus gets to that area (around the mouth, eyes or genital area) it will start to multiply again, causing our body to react to it. A mild rash will appear, followed by the forming of one or several blisters filled with liquid. After a while, the blisters will burst, leaving painful sores in their place.

The crucial phase when it comes to risk of contagion is the outbreak phase. This is because when the virus attacks the surface of the skin; it will be present there, making it easier for it to “jump” to another person. Dating someone with herpes can be safe, as long as you take precautionary steps during this outbreak phase. Wash your hands if they came into contact with an infected area and try to keep your immune system in top form, reducing risk of infection.

True Risks

The true risk in dating someone with herpes is the fact that you might not even know that person is infected. Even the person in question might not be aware of the presence of the virus. Studies show that in the US, 50 million people are suffering from genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2. Out of these 50 million people, only 5 million know they have the infection and are taking steps to prevent outbreaks and in treating symptoms. This happens because the herpes virus has the tendency to remain asymptomatic or latent for long periods of time, making it thus very hard to figure out that you are infected. Also, an outbreak might develop only mild symptoms that come and go fast and that are unlikely to be linked with the virus.

Last, but not least, there are some herpes symptoms that are easily confused with other conditions, such as yeast infections, ingrown hairs, canker sores or genital warts. It is best to go to the doctor before starting to date someone in order to know for sure, rather than risk infecting another human being.

Is Having Sex with Someone with Herpes Safe?

Sex with herpes can be safe, if some methods of preventing transmission are applied.

There are a few things you need to know about herpes in order to make sure you take all the precautionary methods available when engaging in intercourse while infected with herpes. The herpes simplex virus is very contagious and should be taken very seriously. You do not want to pass it on to your partner or get it from your partner. Luckily enough, there are ways to reduce the risk of contagion.

The herpes simplex virus enters a healthy body through small lesions in the skin or through genital or oral mucosa. As you cannot really protect these areas while engaging in intercourse, the infected party will have to take a few extra steps to prevent spreading his or her infection.

As the virus enters the body, it will start traveling through a nerve it finds, all the way to the spinal cord where it will settle and start to multiply. This is the first phase of infection. Following this phase, the virus will remain latent there for about a week and then it will start traveling back to the surface of the skin, causing what we call a herpes outbreak.

Protecting Your Partner

Sex with herpes can be very risky during such an outbreak. The best way to protect yourself or your partner from becoming infected with the virus is to abstain from sex during an outbreak.

One of the first visible symptoms is the rash, followed by blisters filled with liquid and then sores. The affected area is invaded by the virus which starts to multiply there as well. Treating the blisters or sores will push back the virus present there after a while. But due to the viral content present in the infected area, the risks of contagion are much higher.

While it is true that it is a very hard thing not to get the virus while living with someone who has it, there are ways in which we can delay the infection as much as possible. For starters, it is important to avoid contact in any way during an outbreak. Remember that even sharing drinking receptacles, towels or clothes may spread the virus. Treating the symptoms as soon as they emerge is equally important. Chances drop considerably if there are no visible symptoms or affected areas which contain the virus on the surface, ready to contaminate the other person.

Can You Have Sexual Intercourse?

As for sexual intercourse during an outbreak, it really depends on how much you are willing to risk. Specialists agree that the only sure contagion prevention method is total abstinence. But the risk is lower for an infected man to pass along the genital herpes to a woman, than an infected woman to a man. This is because, in men, genital herpes presents itself on the penis, towards the top. Using a condom will drastically reduce chances of contagion. But a woman suffering from genital herpes can present symptoms nearly anywhere around the vagina area, thus making it very hard to have intercourse without coming in direct contact with the virus.

Sex with herpes is almost unanimously frowned upon. Treating the infection and the symptoms should be a priority. Modern day treatments usually alleviate the symptoms and heal the affected area in a matter of days.

Herpes and Pregnancy?

The threat of a baby contracting herpes at birth is relatively low and it depends on many aspects. If the mother has a history of infections prior to conceiving, then the baby has less than a 1% chance of catching herpes during normal birth. However, if the mother becomes infected towards the end of the pregnancy for the very first time, the birth canal might be infected. When the baby is delivered, it can catch the herpes. This is because the mother did not have the chance to produce the natural antibodies for the herpes. If she would have gotten the condition prior to becoming pregnant, her antibodies would have passed through the placenta and into the baby’s organism, shielding it during birth from the virus.

If a baby indeed catches herpes, there is a chance that neonatal herpes will develop. Left untreated or undetected, this can lead to serious problems. Neonatal herpes can lead to anything from eye or throat infections to mental retardation, damage to the central nervous system and in very rare cases even death.

The baby is predisposed to developing neonatal herpes in the first 28 days of life. After that, antibodies might take care of the problem. The baby can catch the herpes not only during birth, but through contact with infected people as well.

How Far Away is a Cure for Herpes?

Permanent treatment is not available for the herpes simplex virus. This is why herpes research is so important. At the time being, there are a lot of medical treatments for the symptoms, so that they can be managed and produce as little distress as possible. But the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a permanent cure or inoculation method.

Europe already has a few vaccines that are said to reduce outbreak severity and occurrence. The results are of little medical relevance though and only certain people can benefit from their effects.

A new three day treatment for genital herpes has been released by the makers of Valtrex. Valacyclovir, is a long acting form of acyvlovir. These treatment, like many of the newest treatments focus on aborting the outbreak before it gets out of hand.

Herpes research shows that it is very important to find a cure because odds are that 1 in 10 of our children will have get infected before they will get married if things do not improve. But this is a very hard task for a number of reasons.

First is the resilience of the virus – it easily defeats our antibodies and immune system and overcomes them, resulting in outbreaks. Secondly, statistics show that out of 50 million HSV-2 infected US citizens, about 90% of them do not even know they have it, thus making it a lot harder to keep track of the virus and prevent it from spreading through sexual contact.

Overall, the medical community is optimistic. Due to recent advances on the medical front, there is little reason to worry that a cure will not show itself in the near future. Until then, treat the symptoms and avoid spreading the virus. Keep a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system to better help you cope with the infection.

Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on

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