Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. Many people have herpes and show no symptoms, which makes the disease very transmittable.
For many men and women, herpes outbreaks can be daunting, embarrassing, and even frustrating. These outbreaks lead to painful sores, embarrassing conversations, and trial and error treatment options.
To best understand how to manage herpes outbreaks, first, you need to be familiar with the STD itself.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection that usually causes small, painful blisters on or around the genital or rectal areas. These sores or blisters are commonly referred to as herpes lesions. Herpes lesions can also appear on the mouth or face.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the most common form of the disease and is transmitted through direct contact with an infected area or through the sharing of contaminated personal items, such as razors, towels, and clothing.
Herpes can be transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. It can be transmitted from men to women and vice versa. Since herpes can be transmitted even when there are no symptoms present, it is considered to be one of the most frequently transmitted sexually transmitted diseases in the world.
What are the Symptoms of Herpes?
Not everyone with herpes has symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they usually appear within 2 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. Some people with herpes never have any symptoms.
- Redness and itching around the infected area
- Small, painful blisters that ooze or bleed
- Muscle aches
- General sense of discomfort
The duration of the herpes outbreak depends on the person. Some people have outbreaks once a month, while others have outbreaks once a year.
Note: The symptoms and signs of herpes infection may be different for each person.
How Is Herpes Diagnosed?
Herpes is diagnosed through a culture of the blister or sore. The culture is sent to a lab for analysis. The results of the culture tell whether or not the patient has HSV. You cannot diagnose yourself at home, which is why it's extremely important to get an STD panel if you've had a new sexual partner or are experiencing bumps, itchiness, or sores around the sex organs.
How Long Do Herpes Outbreaks Last?
Herpes outbreaks can last anywhere from 2 to 20 days. For some people, herpes outbreaks can be more severe and may last longer.
Herpes outbreaks are often painful, cause blisters, and are highly contagious. They can be triggered by stress, fatigue, illness, sun exposure, menstruation, genital/rectal/oral contact with an infected person, and even low humidity.
Many people with herpes do not have outbreaks. These individuals may have what is called asymptomatic herpes. Others have outbreaks often, which can be due to a number of factors, including stress, illness, and sun exposure.
If you have herpes, your doctor will work with you to help manage outbreaks and reduce the amount of discomfort you experience.
How to Treat Herpes Outbreaks
Many people who have herpes experience painful sores during an outbreak. There are a number of treatments for herpes available over the counter and through your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral to help reduce the severity of an outbreak. As with many other medications, it is best to take an antiviral as soon as you feel an outbreak coming on.
There are also treatments available to help reduce pain and discomfort during an outbreak.
To relieve pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever. You can also try a warm bath, which can help to reduce pain and itching.
If you have a topical outbreak, try a soothing, medicated ointment for your herpes lesions.
There are also a number of other treatments available for herpes, including:
- Immune Boosters
- Topical Treatments
If you notice any signs of a herpes outbreak, be sure to contact your doctor to discuss the best treatment options for you.
It's important to note there is no cure for herpes. Most treatments are designed to reduce the severity of outbreaks, relieve pain and discomfort, and manage outbreaks. Some people with herpes may never have an outbreak.
If you have herpes, there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. You can take steps to manage your outbreaks and reduce the severity of symptoms.
How Do I Treat a Herpes Lesion?
Herpes lesions can be treated with various medications and remedies. One of the most common ways to treat herpes simplex is by applying a topical anti-viral cream, such as acyclovir.
Acyclovir is an anti-viral medication that can help to relieve the pain and discomfort and speed up the healing process. Acyclovir cream can be applied to the herpes lesions a few times per day, and it’s best to try to apply it at the same time each day to help the lesions heal faster.
Acyclovir cream is only effective if the virus is present, so you can still get herpes lesions even if you are applying acyclovir. However, it will help to prevent any serious complications from developing. Acyclovir cream may cause some localized skin irritation when applied, but this is usually mild and should pass within a few hours. Acyclovir cream is available over the counter and is usually quite affordable.
Another topical cream that can be applied to herpes lesions is called camphorated lidocaine. Camphorated lidocaine is a topical anesthetic that can help to relieve the pain and itchiness associated with herpes lesions, as well as numbing the area to reduce the chance of scratching. Camphorated lidocaine can be applied to the lesions a few times per day, and it works very well for many people.
How Long Does It Take For a Herpes Lesion To Heal?
Herpes lesions are often itchy due to the virus’s tendency to recur in the same place, and to spread to the nerve cells in the skin. The itchiness can be quite irritating and may keep you up at night. It’s important to try to avoid scratching at the skin, and to keep it clean and dry, which will help the lesion to heal quicker.
The healing time for a herpes lesion may depend on a variety of factors, and the time taken to heal can be anything from a few days to a few weeks. In order to prevent recurrence, it’s best to try to avoid anything that triggers the virus, such as stress and sun exposure.
If a lesion is not kept clean, it can become infected, in which case it can take longer to heal. If you have a herpes lesion that is not healing, see your doctor to discuss possible options.
In order to avoid a herpes lesion from becoming infected, it’s important to keep it clean and avoid touching it. Applying a topical cream containing aloe vera or tea tree oil, or an ointment that contains camphor may help to relieve the itchiness and speed up the healing process. Also, it’s best to avoid using any harsh cleansers on the skin, which can further irritate the lesion and cause it to take longer to heal.
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.