Living Successfully with Herpes


Herpes is a common, contagious viral disease that appears in several forms, including oral herpes which is caused by herpes simplex type 1, and genital herpes most often caused by herpes simplex type 2. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease.

The most common symptom of the virus is the development of blisters or bumps on the skin which are tender to the touch and may burn or itch. Learning to live well and successfully with herpes depends upon education, managing the disease, and coping with outbreaks.

1. Knowledge

Educate yourself regarding the herpes virus. Your research will give you the knowledge you need effectively deal with having herpes.

Full knowledge of what you are dealing with will empower you in taking care of yourself. Learn all you can about the disease by perusing medical journals, talking with your doctor and pharmacist, and gathering information from the American Social Health Association.

2. Avoiding Triggers

There are many things that can trigger a herpes outbreak. One of the greatest contributors is stress. Your immune system becomes weakened, leading to an outbreak of blisters.

Learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga can help decrease the anxiety you face. Also, avoid interactions with people who raise your stress level and limit your participation in events that are overly stressful.

While you cannot cut all the worries from your life, you can reduce strife. Other triggers to avoid are excessive exposure to sunlight, wearing pants that are too tight, consuming too much alcohol and caffeine, and getting too little sleep.

3. Managing Outbreaks

Take the medication your physician prescribes, as scheduled. When you do have an outbreak, treat it quickly to help decrease its severity. Your doctor may prescribe a topical medicine that should be according to her instructions.

There are also some natural healing topical preparations you can try, such as lemon balm and aloe vera. Always test a small area to make sure the application does not worsen your blisters, as people respond in different ways to different treatments. Clean blisters with hydrogen peroxide and allow the area to dry before putting on clothing.

You can use a blow dryer, set on low heat, to help dry sensitive blisters. Make sure you wear loose clothing during a genital herpes outbreak to keep moisture from building up. Take it easy during severe outbreaks by getting plenty of rest and engaging in low-key activities.

4. Intimacy

You have to be especially vigilant concerning intimacy as a person living with herpes. Being honest with a new partner is essential. You also need to realize transmission of the virus is possible even when you are showing no symptoms and there are no blisters.

Using condoms will help protect your partner from contracting the disease. A man needs to remember, however, that the scrotum will be unprotected even while wearing a latex condom, so efforts should be taken to protect that area. A woman can use a “dental dam,” a specially constructed female condom, or even place kitchen plastic wrap over her vaginal area to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to her partner’s mouth while receiving oral sex.

Couples can wear latex gloves when manually stimulating each other. Though those with herpes and their partners must take precautions while being physically intimate, they can still enjoy sexual activity with creativity and a positive outlook.