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Herpes – causes, side effects and treatments at

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by

Herpes is an infectious viral disease caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Direct contact is how HSV travels from one person to another. This virus can affect numerous parts of the body, ranging from the external genitalia to the lips to the esophagus. According to, there are are two types of HSV, and these are:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1): More commonly known as oral herpes, HSV-1 is spread when contact occurs with skin sores or oral secretions. Kissing, eating with the same utensils, sharing lip balm, and other similar actions can lead to HSV-1 passing on from person to person. Despite its name, it’s possible to acquire genital herpes via HSV-1, all that needs to be done is to have oral sex with someone who has cold sores.
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2): Also known as genital herpes, people who have this type of HSV are typically distinguished by sores around their genitals or rectum. These sores can appear on other areas of the body but are most common below the waist. HSV-2 is transmitted through sexual intercourse. Children can be infected with HSV-2 if their mothers had it while giving birth to them naturally. Over half of the people in the United States have HSV01.

Known side effects and risk factors of herpes

Herpes can affect any person, regardless of their age or ethnicity. There are several risk factors that can make an individual more susceptible to HSV-2, and they are:

  • Already having a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Being female
  • Being sexually active at a young age
  • Having more than one sexual partner
  • Possessing a weak immune system

The primary symptoms of herpes are the appearance of tiny blisters surrounded by reddish skin. These blisters on the skin (e.g. on the genitals or fingertips) or on mucous membranes, such as those lining the inside of the mouth, vagina, and eyes.

In the case of people who have oral herpes, they will typically feel tingling or itching in areas where blisters will eventually appear, which is most often inside of the mouth. The blisters can last up to two weeks, and in that time, they can make eating and drinking challenging and uncomfortable. Other symptoms range from dehydration to swollen gums to fever to body aches. Recurrent infection of oral herpes is distinguished by cold sores or fever blisters, which are named as such due to being caused by colds or fevers.

For people who have genital herpes, these blisters can manifest in the genitals and/or rectum. Internal blisters can also occur, usually in the vagina or cervix. The presence of these blisters can cause pain or difficulty while urinating, as well as constipation. Vaginal discharge, high temperature, and general feelings of malaise are characteristic of HSV-2. In case of recurrence, the blisters tend to burst open and leave behind painful sores that appear irritated and expel a thick, foul-smelling discharge.

Body systems harmed by herpes

Because herpes can appear on the skin or mucous membranes, these organs are most at risk of being damaged by the disease. The physical symptoms of herpes typically disappear after some time, though in certain instances, it can result in more severe complications of major organs and organ systems. Some of these complications are:

  • Herpes encephalitis: This is a rare viral infection of the central nervous system. Herpes encephalitis can cause a person to experience confusion, fever, and seizures, and can even lead to death.
  • Bell’s palsy: Also known as facial palsy, this is a kind of paralysis that affects the facial muscles on one side of the face. Bell’s palsy caused by herpes is brought on by HSV inflaming facial nerves until they become damaged.
  • Bladder problems: The blisters caused by genital herpes can give rise to swelling that closes the urethra, making it difficult to urinate. In this instance, a catheter is necessary to drain the bladder of urine.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent herpes

The key to preventing herpes is to strengthen the immune system, which is usually done by consuming a variety of nutritious whole foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Most of these foods have a high lysine-to-arginine ratio, which is essential for avoiding and managing herpes. This is because lysine counteracts arginine, which is needed for HSV to grow. Foods such as peanuts, chocolate, soy, wheat germ, and sesame seeds are rich in arginine, so make it a point to avoid these foods.

Treatments, management plans for herpes

As per, there is no drug that can get rid of HSV. Doctors will prescribe antiviral medication to prevent the virus from growing and to mitigate the severity of symptoms. However, this is usually reserved for the first occurrence. Recurrent outbreaks usually don’t require treatment as they are often milder in comparison. If more than six recurrences happen in the span of a single year, then the affected individual may be required to take antiviral medication permanently.

Some home remedies can make it easier to deal with the symptoms. Applying petroleum jelly to affected areas, soaking in lightly salted water, and applying cloth-wrapped ice packs to the skin are all said to ease the pain of blisters caused by herpes.

Practicing safe sex is the best way to reduce the risk of herpes. Wearing condoms during sex and limiting the number of sexual partners will help prevent herpes, as can avoiding sex while the symptoms of herpes are present.

Where to learn more


Herpes is a viral infection that affects the skin and mucous membranes. It is distinguished by the appearance of blisters, which can be external or internal. Other symptoms can include fever, pain, itching, and generally feeling unwell. Herpes is typically transmitted through sexual intercourse or by sharing items that have come into contact with the mouths of people who have herpes. There is no cure for this condition, only antiviral medication to reduce its severity. Prevention is the best way to avoid herpes, and this is done by having safe sex.

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