Herpes is a virus that affects the human nervous system, modifying the DNA of the nerve cells supplying the skin through which the virus entered. Most patients suffer from recurrences that may vary in frequency from once in a lifetime to several recurrences a year.
The average rate of recurrences is about four times per year. Recurrences usually take about a week or so to heal.
People living with herpes face a sad reality since there is no cure for the disease yet. Although encouraging research is progressing in the field, there is some sound advice that can be followed to control the relapse and frequency of outbreaks.
Here are some of the factors that are believed to cause herpes outbreaks:
– Excessive exposure to sunlight
– Chocolate, nuts and poor diet
– Lack of proper rest
– Menstrual cycle
– Emotional stress
– Physical stress or repetitive trauma such as sexual intercourse
– Illness accompanied by fever
– Surgical trauma
– Steroidal medication such as asthma medication
Stress is a major stimulant of recurrent herpes outbreaks. You cannot eliminate the stress in your life, but it is certainly possible to decrease the frequency of recurrences by controlling the stress level that we expose ourselves to. Getting plenty of rest and leading a balanced life is critical in controlling herpes outbreaks.
Typically, important events involving an increased level of activity such as a wedding or graduation can trigger an outbreak. Each individual is different and will come to identify what triggers an outbreak in their particular case.
Managing genital herpes during pregnancy is very important to the health of the soon-to-be-born infant. Neonatal herpes, although rare, is a very serious condition. Infants exposed to herpes simplex virus can experience brain infection, seizures, prolonged hospitalization, mental retardation and death if the infection takes hold.
Certain nutrients and vitamins such as beta-carotene, vitamin C & E and zinc can help prevent herpes outbreaks. It has been known for some time now that the amino acid lysine can help to reduce both the frequency and the duration of outbreaks.
Good sources of lysine can be obtained from the following foods:
Margarine, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese and other dairy products, whey, papaya and beets.