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How to Prevent Outbreaks of Herpes

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Learn how to prevent outbreaks of both oral and genital herpes simplex virus.

There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV- 1 and HSV- 2. They are also known as Hunan herpesvirus 1 (HHV-1) and 2 (HHV-2) respectively. Both forms of herpes are very contagious, and sufferers experience repeated outbreaks.

The most common sites of herpes infection are the mouth/lips (oral herpes) and genitals (genital herpes). This infection appears in the form of liquid-filled blisters.

However, both herpes viruses can infect any part of the skin surface. 

Furthermore, although HSV-1 is more commonly linked with oral herpes and HSV-2 with genital herpes, either virus can cause oral and genital herpes. In fact, the incidence of genital herpes caused by HSV-1 is rising rapidly (currently estimated to account for 20 - 80% of genital herpes cases).

There are three ways to prevent herpes outbreaks: avoiding contact with infected people, natural treatments to prevent future outbreaks, and pharmaceutical drugs.

Symptoms of oral herpes

The University of Maryland Medical Center describes the symptoms of oral herpes (herpes labialis) as painful blisters on the lips and inside of the mouth which burst and form yellowish scabs as they heal. It takes between three days and two weeks for a full recovery.

Also, a person with oral herpes may experience foul breath and increased salivation. Rarely, more serious complications and diseases can occur.

Symptoms of genital herpes

Outbreaks of genital herpes occur one or two weeks after being infected with either of the two herpes viruses. Usually, there is a tingling in the genital area, followed by red bumps which turn into blisters.

Over the next several weeks, more blisters can occur, rupture, and become painful, open sores. The affected areas cause itching in some cases. Scabs form and the sores eventually heal.

How to prevent outbreaks of oral herpes

John Hopkins University states that oral herpes is spread in two ways. First, any direct physical contact with a person who is experiencing an outbreak, such as kissing, will spread the virus to another person.

Since herpes simplex-1 is passed through saliva, the virus can also be spread by sharing toothbrushes, drinking straws, sports bottles, eating utensils, and towels with others.

Children and young adults are the most susceptible to contracting oral herpes. The safest way to prevent an outbreak of oral herpes is to avoid sharing personal items with family members and friends.

How to prevent outbreaks of genital herpes 

Genital herpes is a sexually- transmitted disease. HSV- 2 and HSV- 1 are passed through sexual contact (including oral sex) with an infected partner. The unfortunate truth about genital herpes is that the symptoms of the disease can be so mild that a person may not know he or she has the virus.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of genital herpes:

How to Prevent  Genital Herpes (HSV- 2)
Always use a condom and practice "safe sex"
Use a dental dam during oral sex
Limit the number of sexual partners
Abstain from sexual contact during outbreaks

Be advised that contraceptives do not kill the herpes simplex virus


Once a person contracts either oral or genital herpes, the primary concern may be how to reduce and prevent the number and severity of future outbreaks of the virus. There are many natural methods to prevent future outbreaks of herpes.

Diet recommendations for herpes

The first order of business to help prevent future outbreaks of either oral or genital herpes is to clean up the daily diet.

While there is no “official herpes diet,” the following suggestions have been clinically proven to boost the body’s immune system, support healthy skin, and speed up the healing time during outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus.

Herpes Diet Suggestions
Eating "clean"- a diet consisting of healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, with no processed or "junk" foods or beverages
"Skin loving" foods- foods rich in Vitamins A and C, zinc, collagen, and healthy fats 
"Herpesvirus killing" foods- foods the National Institute of Health lists as virucidal, including L-lysine, Vitamin E- rich foods, garlic, and lactoferrin


Herbs for herpes

The National Institute of Health has published several herbs that scientists have demonstrated to help reduce healing time and incidence of future herpes outbreaks.

Herbs for Herpes Simplex- 1
Aloe vera (wound healing)
Oregon grape root (reduces inflammation)
Garlic (kills viruses and bacteria)
Ginger root (reduces inflammation)


The following herbs for genital herpes have effective virucidal properties:


Herbs for Herpes Simplex- 2
Lemon balm (also known as bee balm, balm mint, and Melissa)
Prunella (also known as "all-heal")
Turkey rhubarb


Most of these herbs can be made into traditional healing teas. Three cups of any of these herbal tea preparations, plus applying the cooled, used herbs directly on the affected areas can bring noticeable results.

Drugs for herpes

If a medical approach to preventing outbreaks of herpes is preferred over a natural approach, there are a couple of pharmaceutical drugs that effectively treat both oral and genital herpes.

Physicians usually recommend a pain reliever for the discomfort associated with both types of herpes. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following drugs for both oral herpes and genital herpes:

Drugs for herpes
Acyclovir (Zovirax)- also available as a topical cream
Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Famciclovir (Famvir)


Herpes can never be cured. Like other viruses, such as chickenpox, the herpes virus stays in the body forever. Over time, however, the outbreaks do lessen in severity. The amount of time between outbreaks increases, until the virus goes dormant and is no longer an issue.


University of Maryland Medical Center.edu, “Herpes simplex”

WebMD.com, “Oral Herpes”

Johns Hopkins Medicine.org, “Mouth Infections”

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