Herbal Recommendations - Please see Herb Safety
- Your doctor may prescribe topical or oral acyclovir, an antiviral drug that can help ease symptoms of an outbreak as well as clear them up sooner. Acyclovir can become less effective with each recurrence (as tolerance or resistance is built up against the drug).
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen may be helpful.
- Antibiotics may be called for to lower the risk of bacterial infection via open blisters on the genitals.
- Urinating through a tube can prevent stinging sensation for women when urine hits open blisters.
- Pregnant women may need to consider a cesarean section to avoid infecting the baby during childbirth.
- When suffering from a flare-up, abstain from sexual intimacy.
- When in remission, use of a condom may lower the risk of contracting or transmitting genital herpes. However, it is not 100% foolproof since affected areas include skin surrounding the genital area.
- Use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 or stay out of the sun altogether to avoid a flare-up due to exposure to ultraviolet rays.
- Since both physical and mental stress often triggers attacks, try to keep stress levels at a minimum. Relaxation therapies -- such as massage and deep breathing -- as well as making sure to get enough rest may be helpful in easing stress.
- Currently, a cure does not exist for genital herpes. Some herbs may be used to alleviate conditions that can trigger attacks or symptoms of the disease.
- According to herbal expert Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., echinacea used internally may bolster the body's immune response. Used externally, the herb may promote wound-healing.
- Tyler also reports that the active ingredient in ginseng can work as an "adaptogen" -- an agent that increases the body's resistance to stress, which is a major trigger for herpes flare-ups.
- Commission E -- an expert committee on herbal remedies established by Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices -- has approved kava kava as an herb that can ease stress and anxiety via its sedative effect.
- Do not take kava kava for more than three months without a doctor's supervision. Prolonged use can lead to a yellowing of skin, hair and nails. Do not mix with alcohol or other mind-altering substances. Allergic reactions have occurred in a few cases.
- Commission E also reports that chamomile flower and oak bark can ease ano-genital inflammation. Use chamomile in a bath (50 g to 2.5 gallons of water) or in a poultice (3-10% infusion). Oak bark, which inhibits viral activity, can be used internally or externally (e.g., as a compress -- 20 g to 1 liter of water).
- Some people may have an allergic reaction to chamomile since it does contain pollen and other allergens, so use the herb with caution, especially if allergic to ragweed or other plants in the Asteraceae family. Do not use oak bark in a full-immersion bath if you have weeping eczema, a fever-inducing and infectious disease or a cardiac condition.