When it comes to holding the title for being one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, genital herpes has unluckily earned this recognition. Since the end of the 1970s, the number of herpes cases has increased about 30% across the nation with young adults and teenagers being the largest group to suffer the expansion of this unforgiving STD.
What is Herpes?
Genital herpes is a viral infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (also known as HSV). The virus often affects male and female genitals, as well as the anal region through two different variations: HSV type 1 and HSV type 2.
HSV type 1 most often infects the mouth and lips, bringing about unsightly sores. These distracting formations are referred to as fever blisters or the frequently used term, “cold sores.” Blister-like sores on the genitals also occur with this type of herpes. HSV type 2 often launches an attack on the genitals, but has been known to infect the mouth as well. It is this virus type that is most common throughout the United States .
When a herpes symptom arises, it is often described as an outbreak. Once infected with the virus, the first outbreak makes an appearance within two weeks. This phase may last for a couple of weeks, bringing about tingling or sores at the site of infection, which could show on the genital or rectal region, on the buttocks, and even on the thighs. Women show symptoms inside the vagina, as well as on the cervix. In lesser-known cases, the virus may have entered the body at a different site like broken skin, such as a cut or scratch.
At first, small red bumps develop, and then small blisters form, which eventually turn into painful sores that may uncontrollably itch. Many individuals also have to deal with sores that crust over, eventually healing without leaving a trace. Accompanying the first outbreak, additional symptoms include headaches, fever, muscle aches, vaginal discharge, swollen groin glands, and painful urination.
What adds to the easy transmission of the herpes virus is that many people are not aware that they are actually infected. Just because symptoms are mild or do not appear does not mean one is free and clear to engage in unprotected sex or more importantly, not alert sexual partners about the virus.
The most common way a doctor will diagnose genital herpes is to analyze the appearance of sores. However, some cases are harder to pinpoint than others and a physician may conduct laboratory tests. Although blood tests cannot detect a herpes outbreak, the results will show if someone is infected with the virus. Newer blood tests are now available, which identifies which type of herpes virus an individual may have.
It is important to know that the herpes infection passes from one person to another through sexual intercourse, oral sex, and close contact (skin-to-skin). As a result, there are various circumstances that place people more at risk. Without the sight of a cold sore, you cannot tell whether or not someone has herpes just by looking at them. Engaging in sexual intercourse without using proper protection and having multiple partners increases the chance of coming in contact with the virus.
Additional risk factors includes an active sex life before the age of 18, possessing a weak immune system, and gender. Women are more likely to become infected with HSV, as well as suffer from harsher symptoms and complications. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 out of 4 women in the United States are infected with HSV Type 2.
Natural Cures for Herpes
Sadly, once you contract the herpes virus, there is no known cure to date. Antiviral medication, such as Zovirax, Valtrex, and Famvir can treat the symptoms, but has no control over future outbreaks. For some, taking prescriptions causes symptoms to worsen or creates side effects that aren’t worth the trouble. Alternate treatment options are needed to provide relief from the irritation that often comes with an outbreak. Below you will find a few natural approaches regarding herpes:
The essential oil of lavender makes a great topical antiseptic. To create a natural remedy, mix 10 drops of oil in 25 ml of carrier oil, and then apply to infected areas.
b) Tea Tree:
Possessing antibiotic and immune-stimulating properties, the essential oil of tea tree should be used as soon as the tingling of an incoming cold sore is felt. This particular natural treatment is topical.
c) Huang Qi:
If you are experiencing reoccurring cold sore outbreaks, you may need to boost the immune system. Taking huang qi will help you achieve this goal.
d) Aloe Vera:
Gently rubbing the gel or oil of aloe vera on sores may create satisfying results.
Some people have found relief for their cold sores by placing a warm tea bag on blisters throughout the day.
f) Lemon Balm Extract:
To reduce the symptoms and hasten healing, applying lemon balm extract on sores can be used as a natural treatment.