Getting Rid of Herpes
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that causes painful and itchy sores. Many people want to know how to get rid of herpes once and for all.
by Brad Chase
There are more than eight identified types of herpes viruses. But the herpes viruses that tend to cause the most long term effects are herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1 – traditionally oral herpes) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2 – traditionally genital herpes).
These herpes viruses cause severe, painful lesions on the mouth and genitals that in most cases recur over time. Genital herpes also carries a severe social stigma and may affect your sex life.
That is why getting rid of herpes is such a priority for those suffering from either of the two common herpes viruses. With HSV-2 affecting more than 25% of the United States alone, and HSV-1 affecting as many as 60% or more, millions of people are wondering how to get rid of herpes so that they can prevent future herpes symptoms and outbreaks.
The problem is that there is no known cure for herpes.
The problem with getting rid of herpes is that after infection the herpes virus lies dormant within your nerve cells – cells that are a crucial part of healthy functioning.
Because nerve cells are so important to your health, your body protects them from harm by preventing any other cells (including white blood cells) from entering. Sometimes even healthy white blood cells attack your healthy cells, and without this protection your own immune system could damage the long term health of your body.
Unfortunately, because the herpes virus is capable of hiding within these cells, it remains protected from your immune system. Herpes isn't a special virus – your immune system has the tools to fight it back. But because it is able to lay dormant in protected cells, your immune system is unable to remove it from your body.
This is why it is currently not possible to get rid of herpes. Unless some type of medical discovery finds a way to remove herpes from your body, getting rid of herpes is going to remain difficult.
While there may not be a cure for herpes, a cure may not be what you are looking for. Often those that want to learn how to get rid of herpes are hoping to discover ways to decrease the three most frequent problems associated with herpes:
Although herpes cannot be cured, there are ways to reduce the three problems that herpes causes. This makes it much easier to live with either of the herpes simplex viruses.
Symptoms of herpes can be problematic. Starting at the initial prodromal itching and continuing until the lesions heal, those with herpes may experience any combination of:
These symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks depending on the outbreak. With genital herpes, especially, this can make it very difficult to go on with your life.
Luckily there are many different methods of relieving herpes symptoms. The most common is pharmaceutical medicine. Once an outbreak occurs, medicines like Famvir, Valtrex, and Zovirax may be prescribed by a doctor to relieve herpes symptoms. Most are effective at reducing some of the signs and symptoms of herpes.
For those that prefer a natural medicine, there are a variety of herbal supplements and creams that are also effective at relieving some of the symptoms of herpes. Natural supplements and creams can be incredibly effective for issues like itching, which is often severe during a herpes outbreak.
There are also lifestyle changes that can reduce the symptoms of herpes. Wearing looser clothes and keeping your genitals dry are very important, as wetness and friction can both increase the severity of symptoms. Washing the outbreak and keeping it clean may also be advantageous to prevent any itching or pain caused by infection.
Each of these options are effective methods at relieving herpes symptoms.
Another issue that affects those hoping to get rid of herpes is the severity of the herpes symptoms.
Some people experience asymptomatic herpes – herpes without any symptoms. Others experience very mild symptoms during recurrences. But others experience very severe symptoms that can be near-debilitating.
Lifestyle changes, such as wearing looser clothes, will help with severity, since fewer irritations to the skin will result in fewer irritated sores. Still, reducing the episode and recovery time is a bit more difficult.
Prescription drugs are the best method of reducing the severity and increasing recovery time after an outbreak. Anti-viral medications are specifically designed to prevent the herpes DNA replication, making it harder for herpes to spread. Without as much replicating, your immune system will have an easier time controlling the outbreak. Both Valtrex and Famvir are useful for recurrent herpes outbreaks, but Valtrex is considered a better option for primary infections.
Herpes severity may also increase depending on the trigger. If you know what your outbreak triggers are (stress, friction, cold/illness, etc.), you may be able to control the severity by preventing the trigger.
The other issue those trying to get rid of herpes face is the idea of transmission.
Many of those with herpes are in relationships with others that may not have herpes. Controlling transmission is an important part of maintaining that relationship.
The only 100% effective way to prevent herpes transmission is to refrain from sexual intercourse.
Condoms are an important part of preventing herpes transmission, but they cannot prevent herpes completely. Unlike other STDs, herpes is spread through skin to skin contact, and condoms cannot cover the entirety of the skin.
Monitoring outbreaks can also help, but it's estimated that as many as 70% of those that got herpes from their partner may have caught herpes when their partner showed no signs of an outbreak. That is because viral shedding can occur at any point after you have herpes, even if no outbreak or symptoms are present.
The best method of reducing herpes transmission while still engaging in sexual intercourse is to use antiviral therapy, especially Valtrex which has been approved as a daily medicine to prevent herpes shedding. Other antivirals like Zovirax and Famvir have not been approved to prevent herpes transmission.
There are several herbal supplements that promote prevention of herpes transmission, but thus far there is no reliable research that indicates these herbal supplements can reduce the potential to spread herpes to your partner.
While it is possible to control the three most common problems associated with herpes infections, most of those with HSV-2 and HSV-1 are hoping for a herpes cure.
Although there is currently no known cure for herpes, there is research that indicates a cure may be on the horizon.
Other diseases in the herpes family of viruses, including chickenpox and shingles, have found that it is possible to create a herpes vaccine. While a vaccine has yet to be produced that can reasonably prevent herpes transmission, most experts believe that there is potential for a vaccine to be created in the next few decades.
Similarly, while a cure for herpes is difficult because of the protection that herpes receive inside of the nerve cells, that does not mean it's impossible. Researchers have been able to identify where the virus hides and what it uses to recur, so scientists are hopeful that with enough funding they can create a successful way to either prevent all recurrences or remove the herpes virus from the body.
Until then, getting rid of herpes remains difficult. But there are many ways to live with the effects of herpes, and when you successfully control herpes, the disease will have little to no effect on your daily life.
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