How To Heal Herpes Sores Faster

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An outbreak of genital herpes can be upsetting and painful - so it comes as no surprise that if you are experiencing an outbreak, you want to know how to heal herpes sores faster than traditional methods of management. 

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a sexually transmitted disease categorized into two main variations, HSV-1 and HSV-2. While HSV-1 is primarily associated with cold sores that surface during times of stress or lack of sleep, genital sores attributed to HSV-2 frequently cause discomfort and pain. 

This pain, coupled with the embarrassment and anxiety of a flare-up, often leaves infected individuals seeking medical aid to reduce their symptoms, and heal sores faster.

This article will explore the various methods utilised to successfully lessen the intensity of a genital herpes outbreak.

 

How long do herpes outbreaks last?

The symptoms of herpes outbreaks can take up to a week to appear after contracting the infection. Once the herpes simplex virus becomes active, it begins to multiply, eventually coming to the surface of the skin along the nerve paths. Due to the nature of the body’s neural pathways, recurrences of genital herpes may not always present in the same place – although they will remain in the same area.  

Genital herpes usually starts off with redness in the affected area, which is followed by small bumps that progress into fluid-filled blisters. Over time, the blisters will burst and become shallow skin ulcers which will then crust over, healing gradually within a couple of weeks. 

The initial genital herpes flare-up is often the most painful, causing fever, fatigue and body aches. It is not uncommon for the first infection to last up to three weeks.

However, subsequent outbreaks tend to present fewer and less intense symptoms, and the frequency of break-outs can vary. A typical herpes outbreak will last between one to two weeks. Some individuals go weeks or months between flare-ups, while others potentially endure back-to-back episodes.

 

How to get rid of herpes overnight

Unfortunately, it is impossible to get rid of the symptoms of a herpes outbreak overnight. Whilst there are genital herpes treatments designed to reduce the duration and severity of recurrences, no products exist that can eliminate the outbreak entirely within one day (or night).

Medical intervention – along with homeopathic remedies – can reduce the discomfort, pain and length of a flare-up.

 

How to get rid of herpes sores faster

Medication

Genital herpes is treated using antiviral medications such as Aciclovir (commonly sold under the brand name Zovirax) and Valaciclovir (also known as Valtrex). These medications can be used to reduce the length and severity of an outbreak, and can also be used as a long-term treatment to prevent or reduce frequent episodes. 

Suppressive therapy with medication is an effective treatment used to reduce flare ups, essentially stopping a herpes outbreak before it happens. It can also lower the chances of passing the infection on by reducing viral shedding.

  • Aciclovir, also referred to as acyclovir in different parts of the world, is commonly sold in tablet form, and comes in 200mg, 400mg or 800mg pills. A single dose of the medication can vary between 200mg and 800mg, as directed by a pharmacist or doctor.
    • Aciclovir 200mg: The lowest dose of the medication, this strength of Aciclovir can be used to treat genital herpes outbreaks, and requires the ingestion of five tablets per day, for five days. Aciclovir 200mg can also be used to treat cold sores at the same dose.
    • Aciclovir 400mg: Used to treat genital herpes outbreaks at a dose of three tablets per day, for five days. It can also be used as suppression therapy to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak at a dose of one tablet twice a day.
    • Aciclovir 800mg: This strength of medication is used to treat infections and outbreaks, at a dosage of three times per day over a two-day period. The higher dosage may be attributed to side effects, and it is not recommended in usage for suppression therapy.
       
  • Valaciclovir can help sores heal while preventing new sores from forming, and can decrease the pain and itching associated with herpes, chickenpox and shingles. The medication works by changing the DNA of the herpes simplex virus, effectively stopping its ability to replicate. 
    • Valaciclovir tablets should be swallowed with water, in doses evenly spread throughout the day. 
    • For those experiencing their first outbreak of genital herpes, 500mg (1 tablet) should be taken twice per day for five days. If a dosage is missed, it is safe to take it upon remembering, although a double-dose is not recommended.
    • Subsequent outbreaks require 500mg (1 tablet), twice daily for three to five days.
    • Suppressive treatment requires a daily dosage over a longer period of time. 
    • This treatment should only be administered under doctor supervision, so the regime is monitored.
    • The dose of valaciclovir required to treat cold sores is four 500mg tablets to be taken initially, followed by another four tablets to be taken after 12 hours.



Home remedies for genital herpes

In addition to medication treatment, there are many natural remedies that effectively soothe herpes sores quickly. An infected individual may be able to reduce inflammation, irritation and other symptoms by implementing a mix of the following solutions.

  • Hot compress
    The application of a warm compress may be helpful as soon as a sore is detected. In the event of a fully-formed sore, heat may help to minimise pain and reduce itching. 
  • Cold compress
    Effective in reducing swelling, an ice pack or clean, soft washcloth filled with ice applied to the affected area can relieve discomfort, although ice should never be directly applied to herpes blisters, bumps or ulcers.
  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly
    Although Vaseline can ease the pain associated with crusting sores, it should be noted that herpes thrives in moist areas, and so applications should be sporadic and only in cases of extreme sensitivity. If possible, it is recommended to let the sores dry out on their own.
  • Sudocream
    An antiseptic healing lotion, Sudocream helps to heal sores by forming a protective layer over the vulnerable area. Sudocream helps reduce the risk of infection and contains a mild local anaesthetic to soothe discomfort.
  • Tea tree oil
    Using a cotton swab, tea tree oil can be applied onto herpes sores in order to reduce discomfort. Suspending the oil in olive oil or Vitamin E oil is also popular, especially if worried about a reaction or sensitivity to direct application. Tea tree oil possess anti-inflammatory properties which can help to relieve pain, and many find it to be a natural herpes treatment. Oral ingestion of tea tree oil isn’t as effective as a direct or diluted application to the affected area.
  • Aloe vera
    The antiviral properties of aloe vera have been reported to aid in the treatment of herpes sores if applied topically. A study published by The National Library of Medicine concluded that 0.2-5% aloe vera gel showed significant inhibitory effect on HSV-1 growth.
  • Salt water
    Salt has natural antiseptic properties, so dissolving salt in warm water can help to prevent the infection of herpes sores.

 

Other natural ways to get rid of herpes faster

Diet

Certain foods might aid in symptom relief from HSV sores and symptoms. A diet rich in specific nutrients can assist in preventing herpes outbreaks – although some foods might trigger them. 

A diet high in lysine might reduce the occurrence, duration and severity of herpes sores. L-lysine is an amino acid that restricts the spread of herpes due to the fact that it competes with another amino acid, arginine, for absorption into the body. Since the herpes virus needs arginine to replicate, a high concentration of dietary lysine is thought to slow HSV infection and reduce potential outbreaks. 

Meat, dairy such as yogurt and cheese and vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli are some of the best foods to eat in order to prevent herpes flare-ups.
 

Vitamins

Certain vitamins may help treat herpes by reducing the healing time associated with an outbreak. Antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, C and E repair skin from infection and aid in the reduction of sores, blisters and bumps attributed to herpes. Vitamin D and vitamin B12 are also utilized in many natural remedies aimed to combat the severity of flare-ups.
 

Stress

The herpes simplex virus can be activated in instances where the immune system is compromised by the action of cortisol secreted by the adrenal glands due to stress. Individuals with chronic stress who are infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 tend to suffer outbreaks with greater frequency than unstressed people.

An action-oriented approach to stress management involves identifying the root cause of anxiety and actively seeking ways to combat it. An increase in the duration or quality of sleep, exercise and outdoor activities can greatly reduce stress levels in the body. 
 

Self-care

Comforting oneself, by means of meditation and rest can go a long way toward slowing the recurrence of a herpes outbreak. Since increased cortisol levels can trigger the onset of flare-ups, relaxing activities that trigger the release of dopamine – a neurotransmitter released by the brain – effectively slow the risk of a potential outbreak.
 

Loose clothing

Whereas restrictive clothing can exacerbate the irritation of active blisters, bumps and sores, loose-fitting garments allow the affected areas to dry, thus promoting faster healing times. Clothing made of natural materials such as cotton can help relieve symptoms. Nylon underwear or tight clothes may prevent sores from healing.

 

How to stop herpes outbreaks

Medication

The medications designed to reduce the duration of a herpes outbreak – aciclovir and valaciclovir – also offer prevention protection against the onset of further flare-ups. They are used to stop herpes outbreaks before they happen, typically in those that suffer recurring outbreaks (six or more per year). It is worth noting that a maintenance/prevention dosage of these treatments is different than the recommended dosages during an active genital herpes infection.
 

  • Aciclovir/Zovirax, when utilised as a herpes suppression therapy, requires the daily dosage of one 400mg tablet, two times per day. Treatment should be reviewed after 6-12 months to assess if the number of outbreaks has reduced.
     
  • Valaciclovir/Valtrex, when taken as part of a herpes suppression regimen, is to be taken once per day. Similar to aciclovir, an assessment as to the efficacy of this protocol should occur at least once per year in order to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

 

How to stop a herpes outbreak before it happens without medication

In order to get rid of herpes without medication, it is important to recognise the individual triggers that result in a flare-up. While these root causes vary from person to person, common identifiers exist that – with a little patience and practise – can aid in the repression of onset symptoms. Whilst the following can help to provide symptomatic relief, they are not able to cure herpes, and it is not possible to cure herpes naturally forever.

Common triggers include:

  • Stress
    Individuals suffering from high stress tend to exhibit herpes symptoms with higher frequency. Efforts to combat cortisol-releasing activities or events will result in diminished or delayed flare-ups.
  • Feeling run-down
    As mentioned, self-care is an important, holistic approach to fighting the effects of genital herpes. Being run-down, overtired or anxious can impact immune system function and lead to an onset of blisters or the fatigue and irritation associated with a herpes episode.
  • Smoking
    The act of smoking during an active herpes outbreak slows the healing process, as smoking weakens the body’s natural healing response. In the case of HSV-1 cold sores, the duration of presentation on the lips are delayed by days or weeks. In a healthy body, red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the blood. In a smoker’s body, carbon monoxide and other chemicals debilitate red blood cells, slowing their natural healing properties.
  • Alcohol
    The immune system, which plays a vital role in the suppression of herpes, is weakened when an individual consumes alcohol. In the case of medication treatment such as Valtrex – which works in tandem to bolster the immune system – not only does drinking weaken the efficacy of the treatment itself, but it could exacerbate potential side-effects. While there is no direct contraindication between herpes treatment medication and alcohol, for best results they should not be mixed.
  • Dry sex
    Although herpes blisters thrive in moist conditions, the friction associated with unlubricated sexual intercourse can irritate the skin surrounding the genitals, thus enflaming herpes sores, particularly in the prodrome or initial stage of infection where the skin is red, raw and agitated.
  • Sunbeds
    Not only is the sweat commonly found on tanning bed surfaces a breeding ground for bacteria – HSV thrives in warm environments and can be triggered by UV light. 
  • Lack of sleep
    Similar to the stress effect, a lack of sleep severely impacts immune system function over time, leading to increased transmission of herpes throughout the body’s neural pathways.
  • Poor diet
    Excessive sugar and refined carbohydrates may contribute to herpes outbreaks, as the effects of a nutrient-deficient diet prevent the healing process by contributing to a weakened immune function.

 

Can you get rid of herpes for good?

It is not possible to be permanently cured of herpes. Once infected, an individual carries the sexually-transmitted infection (STI) for the duration of their life. While various treatments and remedies can effectively treat and slow the progression of HSV-1 and HSV-2, no cure has been discovered for the disease.

 

How far away is a cure for herpes?

To date, doctors and medical experts have been unable to find a cure for the herpes simplex virus. Researchers are actively searching for new treatments in order to combat herpes.

While the virus has successfully evaded efforts to isolate and destroy it, there are signs of hope on the horizon. A recent Financial Market Brief press release indicates that a potential vaccine is being actively tested, with two treatments promising up to 93.67% efficacy in stopping HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection. 

The proposed vaccine candidates – HerpaGreens and Herpesyl – contain mutations of the herpes virus that could safely replicate and infect new cells at the site of injection. The study, entitled Assessment of Two Novel Live-Attenuated Vaccine Candidates for Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) in Guinea Pigs, can be viewed on the MDPI website here.

While both vaccine candidates have been deemed safe, they are still a long way from availability to the public. The stringent testing and clinical trial phases can take up to 12 years, meaning that – while hope for a cure is on the horizon – treatment and prevention efforts are the best course of action to stop herpes from spreading.

 

How to heal herpes sores faster and live a normal life

You can lead a rich, normal life while living with the herpes simplex virus. Whilst it is quite difficult to get rid of sores quickly, the prevalence of medications, treatments and remedies available today, ensure flare-ups and outbreak effects are reduced. Remember to manage stress levels, maintain a healthy diet, and exercise, in order to slow the progression of herpes. You should always inform sexual partners to help avoid complications further into a relationship. 

Living with HSV-1 or HSV-2 should have little bearing on your ability to lead a healthy, productive and enriching existence, thanks to the various treatment options on the market today.


Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.