Herpes outbreaks occur due to an attack by the herpes simplex-1 and herpes simplex-2 viruses. The former causes oral herpes, and the latter leads to genital herpes. The virus spreads from one person to another through close contact.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is usually transmitted through contact with infected saliva (for instance, through kissing, eating from the same utensils, or sharing personal items). It is associated with infections of the mouth, lips, and face.
Herpes simplex virus type 2, on the other hand, is sexually transmitted and is associated with genital sores or ulcers. Cross infection leading to genital herpes in the mouth and oral herpes in the genital area may be caused through oral-genital contact. The virus can be transmitted even when sores and symptoms are not visible.
Herpes outbreaks are characterized by fever blisters, mouth sores, and enlarged lymph nodes. The first episode of a herpes outbreak may also be accompanied by a fever.
After an outbreak, the virus tends to retreat to the nervous system. It can become active again due to triggers like stress, illness, certain foods, hormonal changes, surgery, and a compromised immune system.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for herpes.
1. Ice Packs
Ice helps relieve the pain and discomfort caused by herpes outbreaks.
- Wrap an ice cube in a cloth or towel.
- Place it on the affected area for about 10 minutes.
- Do this several times a day for a few days until you see improvement.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps decrease the severity of herpes outbreaks due to its disinfectant, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and dab it on the affected areas three or four times a day for two to three days. For best results, apply it as soon as you experience the initial tingling sensation. Be aware, it is likely to sting a little.
- You can also add one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water and drink it twice daily during flare-ups.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Being a disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide is a quite popular home remedy for herpes.
- Apply a little 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave it on for a few minutes, and then wash it off. Repeat the process every few hours for a couple of days.
- You can also crush a lysine tablet, mix it with hydrogen peroxide, and then apply.
- For oral sores, use a mixture of one part hydrogen peroxide and three parts water as a mouthwash a few times daily for two or three days.
Garlic has natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help combat herpes outbreaks. Research published in Planta Medica in 1992 found that a chemical called allicin present in garlic may have antiviral effects. Garlic oil also contains the antiviral compound ajoene.
- Place a crushed garlic clove on the affected area and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this a few times daily for two days or until you see improvement. Be aware, it may cause a burning sensation.
- Alternatively, you can apply garlic oil on the affected area two or three times daily. To make garlic oil, cook fresh garlic cloves in olive oil until they turn brown and then strain the oil.
- You can also eat one or two crushed garlic cloves daily. This will also work as a preventive measure.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is useful in reducing the intensity of herpes outbreaks. Plus, it has antiviral and antibacterial effects. It also contains a compound called eugenol, which works as a natural pain reliever.
- Drink lemon balm tea several times daily for a few days until the symptoms subside.
- Apply lemon balm oil or tea bags on the affected area three or four times a day. You can also wash the area with lemon balm tea.
- Alternatively, dab a little lemon balm extract on the affected area and leave it on until it dries naturally. Do this a few times a day.
6. Licorice Root
Licorice root strengthens the immune system and fights off the herpes virus. It has an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin that has antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Mix one-half tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of licorice root powder. Dab it on the affected area and leave it on for a few hours. Do this three or four times a day until the blister is gone.
- You can also apply a thin layer of liquid licorice root extract, cream, or gel on the affected area.
Note: Those with high blood pressure should avoid taking this herb internally. Also, if topical application of licorice root causes skin irritation, then discontinue the remedy.
Peppermint tea helps reduce the severity of herpes outbreaks. It also helps soothe the pain and inflammation. Peppermint oil, too, has been found to have a virucidal effect on the herpes virus.
- Drink peppermint tea at least two times a day.
- Alternatively, dip a cotton ball in water and then in peppermint oil. Apply it on the affected area a few times a day.
8. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another effective remedy that has antiherpetic, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It contains terpenes and phenylpropanoids with antiviral activity. Moreover, a 2001 study published in Pharmazie found that essential oils such as tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil exhibit antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus.
- Dilute tea tree oil by adding one-half ounce of a vegetable oil to 10 drops of tea tree oil. You can also add five drops each of myrrh and geranium essential oils and two drops of peppermint oil.
- Apply the solution on the affected area three to five times daily for a few days until the outbreak clears.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which converts into a monoglyceride called monolaurin that has antiviral and antibacterial effects. Moreover, the lauric acid and capric acid in coconut oil help kill the herpes virus.
- Drink 10 to 30 ounces, or about a quart, of organic virgin coconut oil daily.
- Alternatively, you can take lauric acid in supplement form after consulting your doctor.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is useful in dealing with herpes outbreaks, especially in the case of genital herpes as it helps heal the lesions. It will heal the sores and relieve pain and inflammation.
- Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply it on the affected area. Allow it to dry on its own and then wipe it off with a washcloth soaked in warm water. Do this several times daily for three to four days.
- You can also apply an aloe vera cream or extract topically.
In addition to following these remedies, eat more lysine-rich foods like dairy products, eggs, nuts (avoid peanuts though because they are rich in arginine), soybeans, mangos, and apricots to help prevent herpes outbreaks. You can take L-lysine supplements (500 to 1,000 mg daily) too.
Plus, eat more cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, which are believed to inhibit growth of the herpes viruses.
If your sores and symptoms do not get better within seven to 10 days, or if you have a weakened immune system, consult your doctor.