This kind of infection can affect anyone, but women are at a higher risk than men. Having multiple sexual partners also increases the risk of this infection.
Some common symptoms of genital herpes include pain, itching, small red bumps or tiny white blisters, sores in the genital area and painful urination. Other symptoms may include headaches, body aches and fever.
genital herpes diagram
The infectious virus spreads mostly through sexual contact. After the initial infection, the virus may remain dormant in the body and can reactivate after some time.
In fact, the signs and symptoms may recur, off and on, for years. Recurrences are generally less painful than the original outbreak, and sores generally heal more quickly.
While there is no cure for genital herpes, many home remedies can ease symptoms and reduce the risk of infecting others.
What Increases Your Risk
Things that increase your risk of getting genital herpes include:
Having more than one sex partner.
Having a high-risk partner or partners (partner has more than one sex partner or has herpes-infected sex partners).
Having unprotected sexual contact (not using condoms).
Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
Having a weakened immune system.
Being a woman. Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to genital herpes. And their symptoms tend to be more severe and longer-lasting. Women also are at a greater risk of having complications from a genital herpes infection.
Having herpes, especially if you have open sores, also increases your risk for becoming infected with HIV if you are exposed to HIV.
Any child with genital herpes needs to be evaluated by a doctor to see if it is the result of sexual abuse. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
home remedies for genital warts
1. Cold Compress
cold compress to sooth genital herpes
The cold temperature helps contract the blood vessels underneath the skin, which in turn reduces the pain and inflammation. It also helps shrink the size of the sores to accelerate the healing process.
Wrap some ice cubes in a thin towel. Apply it directly on the affected area for 10 minutes, taking a break for a few seconds from time to time. Repeat every 3 to 4 hours to reduce pain and discomfort. Make sure you use a fresh towel every time and wash the used towel in hot water.
Another option is to chill a used teabag in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and apply it on the affected area. Hold it in place for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this several times a day.
You can also wash the affected area with cold water from time to time to keep it clean.
2. Epsom Salt Bath
epsom salt bath for genital herpes
It can also relieve the pain and reduce itching.
Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water.
Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt.
Stir the water to make sure the salt dissolves completely.
Soak your lower body in this water for 10 to 30 minutes for maximum skin absorption.
When done, dry the genital area with a blow-dryer on a warm setting for lukewarm air.
Use this remedy 1 or 2 times a week only.
3. Coconut Oil
coconut oil to treat herpes
The medium-chain triglycerides, lauric and capric acid have antiviral effects, which can destroy the virus causing the outbreak. Coconut oil also reduces itching and inflammation.
Apply extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected area before going to bed. Allow it to sit overnight, and rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm water the next morning. Repeat daily.
Alternatively, make a salve by mixing equal amounts of extra-virgin coconut oil and raw honey. Rub it liberally onto the skin where there are open sores, 2 or 3 times a day.
Also, include 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin coconut oil in your daily diet.
4. Aloe Vera
use aloe vera gel to cure genital herpes
It helps heal the lesions as well as relieving pain, inflammation and itching.
Thoroughly rinse an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel.
Apply it on the affected area.
Allow it to dry on its own.
Wipe it off with a washcloth soaked in warm water.
Do this 3 or 4 times daily for several days.
You can also drink aloe vera juice once daily to promote healing. To prepare the juice, blend 2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel along with 1 cup of orange or any other citrus juice. Do not take more than 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel in a day as it may have a laxative effect.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
The extra oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide chemically reacts with anaerobic (harmful) bacteria and viruses and destroys them. This in turn speeds up the healing time.
use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of genital herpes
Using a cotton ball, dab 3% hydrogen peroxide on the affected area. Leave it on for a few minutes, then wash it off with lukewarm water. Repeat every few hours for a few days.
You can also crush a lysine tablet, mix it with hydrogen peroxide and apply the solution on the affected area. Rinse it off after 10 minutes with lukewarm water. Do this once daily.
take L-lysine to treat genital herpes
Follow a diet high in lysine but low in arginine. Eat more beans, beef, fish, most fruits, green vegetables and Greek yogurt.
Take supplements. You can take 3,000 to 9,000 mg of lysine in divided doses for an outbreak and 1,000 mg three times a day to prevent a recurrence. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement.
Note: If you have high cholesterol, heart disease or high triglycerides, take lysine only under the supervision of a doctor.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
use apple cider vinegar to treat genital herpes
Plus, its disinfectant, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the severity of symptoms and even help prevent a recurrence.
Dip a cotton ball in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and dab it on the affected areas. It will sting a bit but avoid washing it off. Do this 3 or 4 times a day.
Also, add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little raw honey to 1 cup of water. Drink it twice daily to help fight the infection.
apply garlic to heal genital herpes
Plus, garlic is a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of interferon, a natural virus-fighting substance.
Apply minced raw garlic or garlic oil on the affected area.
Allow it to sit for 15 minutes. There will be little burning sensation initially, but soon it will stop.
Rinse it off using lukewarm water.
Repeat the process 2 times daily.
Also, eat 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach to give your immune system a boost.
9. Baking Soda
This common household ingredient is very effective against oozing sores, as it helps dry them up. This in turn promotes faster healing.
baking soda remedy for herpes
Baking soda also helps relieve itching and pain.
Dip a cotton ball in water, then dip it in some baking soda.
Dab the cotton ball on your sores, making sure the sores get thoroughly coated with baking soda.
Allow it to sit for 1 hour, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Do this twice daily.
10. Indian Lilac
It helps reduce pain and itching, while also boosting the immune system to help fight off the virus.
Indian lilac for genital herpes
Wash and grind a handful of neem leaves into a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Do this a few times a day.
You can also boil a handful of neem leaves in a pan filled with water until 1/3 of it remains. Cool and strain the solution. Rinse the affected area with this neem-infused water a few times a day.
How Serious of a Health Problem Are the Symptoms of Genital Herpes?
Affect a person’s self-esteem
Interfere with a person’s sense of security and intimacy
In some cases, though, complications from genital herpes can be serious, even life-threatening.
Although it’s rare, pregnant women can pass on the herpes infection to their child. This can result in a serious and sometimes deadly infection in the baby. That’s why taking steps to prevent an outbreak at time of delivery is recommended starting at 34 weeks into the pregnancy. If you have signs of an active viral infection when it’s time to deliver, your doctor will likely recommend a cesarean section for delivery.
Genital Herpes and Your Sex Life
Avoid these sexual activities when you have sores on your genitals, or when you feel a herpes outbreak coming on:
Receiving oral sex (fellatio, cunnilingus, and analingus)
Between outbreaks, it’s OK to have sex, as long as your partner understands and accepts the risk. For example, as long as you don’t have herpes sores on your mouth, you can perform oral sex on your partner, including when you have an outbreak of genital symptoms.
But your partner can be infected with herpes even when you don’t have symptoms or sores. To help prevent that, always use a latex condom for vaginal sex, anal sex, and receiving fellatio. Condoms are not guaranteed to prevent infection, but research has shown that they provide some protection. Use a dental dam for cunnilingus and analingus.
Otherwise, use your imagination. There are many ways people can express themselves sexually without having genital-to-genital or mouth-to-genital contact. Exploring them can enrich your sex life and make up for having to avoid other activities because of genital herpes. Consult a health care professional if you have any doubts about what’s safe and what is not.
For example, you could try mutual masturbation, which poses almost no risk: You could masturbate together — side by side, facing each other, or back to back — or masturbate each other manually. Just make sure you don’t have any broken skin on your hands, and wash hands with soap and warm water afterward. Also, never touch a herpes sore and then touch your partner, and make sure no bodily fluids could be exchanged by accident. If you and your partner like vibrators or dildos, you could try using them on each other. Make sure you wash the toy before and after, and don’t share it.
A Drug for Genital Herpes May Be Right for You
Daily therapy isn’t the only option, or necessarily the best one for you. If your outbreaks are few and far between, you might set your mind at ease by keeping a supply of antiviral pills that you could take in case of a flare-up. Ask your doctor if you could benefit from taking medication for genital herpes.
Another consideration may be that the friction of sex could irritate the skin and trigger outbreaks. If that’s a problem for you, try using a water-based sexual lubricant. K-Y jelly and AstroGlide are two brands available at many drugstores.
Don’t use an oil-based lubricant, however, because the oil can break down latex. Also, do not use a lubricant containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 may cause tiny rips in mucous membranes (such as those on the genitals) that can let viruses like herpes and HIV enter the body more easily.
- Abstain from sexual activity or use a latex condom during every sexual contact. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect others with the herpes virus.
- Avoid having multiple sexual partners.
- Get adequate rest when suffering from a herpes outbreak to boost your immune system.
- Avoid exerting yourself, such as by exercising or jogging, when you are suffering from an outbreak.
- Managing stress in your life can help speed up the healing time.
- Wear cotton and loose-fitting clothes to allow air to easily circulate to your skin. Avoid wearing synthetic or silk underwear and opt for only cotton underwear.
- If toweling off after taking a bath is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer.
- Women who are pregnant and suffer from genital herpes should consult their doctor immediately to prevent the virus from being transmitted to the baby during delivery.