Foods To Avoid During a Herpes Outbreak

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If you're one of the millions of people who have herpes, you're constantly on the hunt to find ways to alleviate symptoms and avoid outbreaks. Outbreaks can be caused by many different things, but one of the most common culprits is stress.

If you're experiencing frequent outbreaks, some people say there are foods to avoid, certain activities to avoid, and even supplements to take that can help reduce stress and help keep outbreaks at bay.

But are there really foods that you should avoid in order to prevent herpes outbreaks?

The answer to that question is a little bit complicated. Some people believe that certain foods can actually trigger outbreaks, while others say that certain foods can help reduce symptoms and prevent outbreaks. Let's dive into the bulk of it!

What is a Trigger Behavior for Herpes?

When someone talks about a trigger, it means something that sets off an action or reaction. Triggers for herpes can be anything from thinking about the virus to being in the sun for too long, or even something as simple as smelling a particular scent. It's important to keep in mind that everyone is different, so what might be a trigger for one person might not be a trigger for another. It's always best to talk to a healthcare provider about what might be triggering your symptoms.

What Triggers Herpes Outbreaks?

There are about 20 types of herpes including herpes simplex 1 and 2 (cold sores and genital herpes), herpes zoster (shingles), and herpes varicella (chicken pox). However, there is no one definitive answer to the question of what triggers herpes outbreaks. It can range from person to person, and from time to time, there can be no clear trigger.

However, some common triggers include:

Stress - Stress is a major factor in the development of many conditions, including herpes. When people are under a lot of stress, their immune systems become weakened, which can lead to the development of herpes.

Weather Conditions - Changes in the weather can also trigger outbreaks of herpes. When the weather is hot and humid, for example, the virus can more easily spread from person to person.

Hormonal changes - Many women experience periodic outbreaks of herpes around the time of their menstrual cycle. This is because the hormone estrogen can increase the risk of the virus spreading from the skin to the bloodstream.

Concurrent health problems - Having other health problems, such as diabetes, can also increase your risk of developing herpes.

Immune System Weakeners - This is where foods may come into play. If you have a weakened immune system, certain foods may be more likely to trigger an outbreak. These foods are listed further down.

Which Foods Should You Avoid During a Herpes Outbreak?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to avoid catching herpes depends on the individual's lifestyle and health conditions. Everyone will have various susceptibilities to different types of infections, so some people may be better suited to avoid certain foods while others can eat them with no problems.

However, some people have overlapping triggers, and these have been documented to include foods like dairy, nuts, and citrus fruits. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to one's diet or lifestyle.

Some of the most common triggering foods for people with herpes include:

Foods High in Arginine

Arginine is an amino acid that is found in many foods, including animal-based proteins such as meat, fish, and poultry. People with herpes may be more susceptible to the virus if they have high levels of arginine in their blood. This is because arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which is a chemical that can help the virus enter and multiply in cells. Consuming high levels of arginine-rich foods may increase the risk of contracting herpes.


Nuts can also be a trigger for herpes, as they are high in the amino acid arginine. People with herpes are more likely to develop outbreaks when they eat foods containing arginine, which is why many people with the virus avoid nuts.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are high in the acid citric acid, which has been linked to outbreaks of herpes in some people. Citrus fruits are also high in sugar, which can make them a trigger for other types of infections, such as the common cold.

Salty Foods

Salty foods can also be a trigger for herpes, as they contain high levels of sodium. Sodium can increase the risk of an outbreak of herpes by making the virus more active, though this isn't the case for everyone and evidence is anecdotal

Are There Any Foods That Prevent Herpes Outbreaks?

Lysine, which is an amino acid, has been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing the severity of herpes outbreaks. The recommended dose is 1,000 mg three times daily. Vitamin C, zinc, and garlic are also thought to be effective in boosting the immune system and preventing herpes outbreaks.

Food that have been found to be helpful in preventing herpes outbreaks include:

  • Lysine
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Garlic

Daily suppressive therapy (a low-dose of antiviral medication taken every day) can also help to prevent herpes outbreaks. This is most effective when started at the first sign of an impending outbreak. Your doctor can help you to determine if daily suppressive therapy is right for you.

Other Ways To Speed up the Herpes Healing Process:

1. Try a topical cream or gel. One of the most common treatments for herpes is using a topical cream or gel. This can help soothe the itchiness and also help keep new blisters from forming.

2. Apply a hot or cold compress. This can help soothe the pain and itching associated with herpes.

3. Take over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

4. Drink plenty of fluids. This will help keep your body hydrated and help reduce the pain and itching.

5. Get plenty of rest. This will help your body heal and also help reduce stress, which can make herpes symptoms worse.

6. Apply a topical antiviral cream or ointment. This can help speed up the healing process and also help prevent new blisters from forming.

7. Take prescription antiviral medications. These can help shorten the duration of a herpes outbreak and also help prevent new blisters from forming.

8. Have frequent showers or baths. This can help soothe the pain and itching associated with herpes.

9. Avoid tight-fitting clothing. This can irritate the skin and make herpes symptoms worse.

10. Avoid sexual contact during a herpes outbreak. This can help prevent the spread of the virus to your partner.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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