It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first outbreak or you’ve lost count of the episodes. Herpes symptoms — including itchy, painful blisters — can be worrisome and distracting. When you’re uncomfortable, it’s hard to concentrate or get anything done. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to find relief.
Whether it’s cold sores (HSV-1) or genital herpes (HSV-2), herpes blisters can pop up when you least expect them. They don’t need to derail your life, though. It’s possible to safely minimize their impact so you can go about your life without a second thought.
Next time you feel an outbreak coming on, give these tricks a try. You could be happily surprised at how well they push your symptoms to the side.
1. Consider Medication
If you have frequent or severe outbreaks, you’ll need some type of cold sore or genital herpes treatment. Otherwise, it can take up to a month for your blisters to heal. Prescription medication can both prevent and treat symptoms of herpes. It can be your first line of defense in getting your symptoms under control.
As with most medications, you have options. Creams work well, but they can be a little messy. You also have to reapply them several times daily. If you’re looking for something simpler, pills may be more convenient. Plus, after the first outbreak, pills have been shown to reduce symptoms for future episodes.
2. Try Temperature Treatments
When your muscles are sore, alternating heat and cold work wonders to relieve the pain. The same can work for herpes blisters. Using a hot or cold compress can reduce the itchiness and pain you feel. Try both to see which works best for you.
If you prefer heat, use a heating pad on a low setting. For a cold compress, put a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it up in a cotton shirt.
Avoid putting the ice pack directly on your skin, though. It can cause an ice burn that leads to permanent skin damage. Gently washing your blisters with warm salt water can also help them heal.
3. Get Gel-ly With It
If you’ve ever had a genital herpes outbreak, you know one of the worst side effects is painful urination. That stinging, burning feeling can make any trip to the bathroom feel like temporary torture. Breathe a sigh of relief! You don’t have to grit your teeth and suffer through it.
Applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your blisters can protect them when you pee. If your case is severe, your doctor might recommend a prescription ointment. Just be sure you don’t forget the most important thing: washing! Take the time to wash your hands before and after you apply the gel. Otherwise, you can spread the virus.
4. Sweeten the Experience
If you prefer to go the more natural path to treat your blisters, you can go the sweet route. There’s evidence that kanuka honey works just as well as an antiviral cream in treating cold sores. It’s possible, though, that any type of honey offers the same benefit.
According to the research, it took nine days for cold sores to heal with honey. The medication was only slightly more effective at eight days. Typically, cold sores heal on their own in about one to two weeks. If you give it a shot, remember to leave the honey in place. Don’t lick your lips for a tasty treat!
5. Be Vigilant With Vitamins
You’ve heard this message from the time you munched on your Fred Flintstones chewables to your daily multi-vitamin now. Keeping your vitamin levels in check can protect your health in all kinds of ways. One of those may be boosting your immune system to reduce herpes symptoms.
There are a couple of vitamins that have been linked to how your body responds to the herpes virus. If you have a low vitamin D level, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll have a repeat outbreak. Vitamin E also seems to offer protection — its antioxidant properties can lower the stress that triggers the blisters. So be sure you pop those vitamins every day!
6. Learn Diet Dos and Dont’s
As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. In this case, though, it’s a pomegranate. That’s right, enjoying this reddish-purple fruit (and its crunchy seeds) can reduce your symptoms and outbreaks. The zinc it contains is mainly responsible, but pomegranates also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Some people have also found relief by adding the amino acids lysine and arginine to their daily diet. If you want to try it out, work more avocados, peanuts, fish, walnuts, chicken, and cottage cheese into your meals.
But changing your diet doesn’t just mean adding new things. You might have to cut a few things too. The biggest dietary culprits behind flare-ups are red wine and caffeine.
7. Invest in Essential Oils
You’ve probably already heard a lot about the health benefits of essential oils. Go ahead and add herpes control to that list. Some people have had success in reducing their cold sores by using a variety of essential oils. Garden thyme, rosemary, wormwood, cinnamon, and basil are just a few that may work for you.
Pay attention to how you use these oils, though. Be sure to dilute them using a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil. It protects your skin from the irritation that direct essential oil contact can cause. Try adding the diluted oil to a bath and enjoy a relaxing soak. It can also drop your stress level — that’s a double benefit!
Dealing with the appearance of herpes blisters can be tough enough. The pain and itching that come with an outbreak only make things more miserable. Your next outbreak doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable. Try these tricks to relieve your discomfort and stick to your daily routine without missing a beat.