There are 6 forms of the herpes virus but three are the major forms, and the ones mostly commonly diagnosed. Herpes is caused by a virus and once contracted, you will have the virus forever. At this time there are no cures for herpes, but there are treatment options.
Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV 1) is more commonly known as oral herpes, or cold sores. Oral herpes causes sores, or blisters on your mouth. Most often a herpes cold sore will appear on your lips, but sometimes it can occur near your eyes. Oral herpes is transmitted by kissing someone with a cold sore. Many people have been affected with oral herpes, even if they have never had any symptoms. Oral herpes is the most common form of herpes, with about 80% of adults having the herpes 1 virus.
You likely have oral herpes if you:
- Have ever had a fever blister or cold sore.
- If a friend or relative has kissed you with a cold sore.
- Drank from a glass of an infected person with an outbreak.
Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV 2), is an STD, diagnosed at genital herpes. Genital herpes is most commonly known as herpes. Herpes is caused by skin to skin contact with an infected person. If a person has an active outbreak, and passes the viral fluid to their partner, commonly that partner will have an outbreak within 3-21 days after exposure. Even if the breakout is not active, they can pass the virus on through what it called the “shedding” of the virus. Genital herpes is the second most common form of herpes. About 35% or more of all American adults over the age of 25 carry the herpes virus. Some are unaware of being carriers.
You are more likely to develop genital herpes if you:
- Are active with multiple partners
- Protection is used during outbreaks
- Protection is not taken even during the “shedding” cycle
Herpes Varicella Zoster (HSV 3) is the virus that causes shingles. Shingles is a painful rash that can appear anywhere on your body. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once you have had chicken pox as a child, you now carry the shingles virus. The virus will lay dormant, living in your spine for years. A person who has had chicken pox has a 50 percent chance of getting shingles. Most cases of shingles develop in patients over 50, but it can happen earlier in life too.
You can develop Shingles at any age, but are more likely to develop the virus if:
- You are older than 50
- You had the chickenpox virus before as an infant.
- You have a weakened immune system from another disease, or medications.
If you come into contact with a shingles rash, and you have not contracted chicken pox earlier in life, you will develop the chicken pox virus, and not shingles
Symptoms of Herpes
Either form of herpes starts out with a cluster of blisters. These blisters are highly contagious. The fluid in the blisters is what contains and spreads the virus. The area underneath is red. As the sores become active, this is when the pain, and itch is at it’s worst. Once the blisters open, the sore becomes less painful.
In cases of genital herpes, the blisters or rash nornally appear vulva, vagina, or anus. Herpes lesions can also occur in or on the cervix, on the buttocks or the thighs. Men generally get sores and herpes lesions on their penis or the shaft of the penis.
All sexual contact should be avoided during an outbreak.
The first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst, and can include these other symptoms as well:
- Muscle pain
- 1 out of 4 people have genital herpes (worldwide)
- 80 % of Americans have herpes 1
- 35-40% of Americans have herpes 2
- Woman are four times as likely to develop genital herpes (HSV2) as men.
- The largest increase of genital herpes is among young white adults (ages 16-23)
- Infection of genital herpes has increased over 30% since the 1970’s.
- The recurrence factor for HSV 2 is about 90 %. Most occurrences will happen within 6 months to a year of the first breakout.
- Most people who contract herpes are between 17 and 25.
Natural Treatment for Herpes
Lemon balm is the one specific herb used for helping to heal herpes sores quickly, and with less pain. When used consistently, it may actually decrease or prevent future herpes outbreaks. It can help to lessen the outbreaks, even if they do occur. Lemon balm is used to help decrease the healing process, and normally works for most people within 2 to 3 days.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which also goes by Melissa, is the best natural, herbal remedy and treatment for herpes, herpes cold sores, and shingles. The eugenol, and tripetenes act as a natural antiviral that heal viral skin infections. Dr. Oz agrees.
Neem (Melia azaderach) is also a powerful antiviral herb. It helps in the healing of sore skin tissues.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) herb is as an mild anti-viral, an anti-inflammatory, as well an antibacterial agent. Calendula is a wonderful wound healer.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is an emollient herb. Comfrey helps to form a protective layer on the skin and helps to heal skin tissue quickly.
Plantain (Plantago major) herb helps to stop the itch of herpes. When applied to the skin, chickweed will help stop the itch within minutes.
Talk With Your Doctor
It is important to talk with your doctor if you feel you may have been infected with the herpes virus. Testing can be done with an active lesion, or by a blood test. An IgG blood test will test for the antibodies. An IgM test is not accurate, and according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), should not be used. It can cause false positive results.
If you are diagnosed, it is important to talk frankly with your doctor about all your options for yourself, and your partner. Protections should be discussed, as this is the only way of preventing the disease from spreading.