Herpes is a widely prevalent disease in the U.S. Statistics show that nearly 50% of the American population has oral herpes. If you’re infected with the herpes virus, here’s how you can manage an outbreak. What Exactly Is A Herpes Outbreak? A herpes outbreak occurs when common symptoms of herpes (oral and genital) like sores start to appear on the skin of the affected area. The first episode of the outbreak—also called ‘initial herpes’—typically begins after 2-20 days have passed after getting infected and lasts for about 2-4 weeks. Unfortunately, the virus may stay in your body leading to possible flare ups in the future. Patients might recognize some telling signs of the disease before the outbreak actually occurs. These include itching, a persistent tingling sensation, and burning near the genitals or mouth. How Frequent Are Outbreaks? After herpes—especially HSV-1—symptoms first occur, most people don’t experience any more outbreaks for a time. Some might be susceptible to more frequent outbreaks while others may only get a few. It’s important to note there’s a higher chance that individuals with suppressed immune systems (caused by illnesses like HIV or leukemia) may suffer more outbreaks with lasting symptoms that are more painful. How To Manage A Herpes Outbreak Though herpes symptoms may get painful, there is herpes medicine and treatment available that may effectively alleviate the symptoms. To help relieve the discomfort during an outbreak here are some of the things you can try: Keep sores as clean and dry as possible Resist touching the sores, if you do, thoroughly wash your hands afterward Indulge in cool baths Hold cool compresses to the sores for a short time each day If you’re infected with genital herpes, wear cotton underwear that’s light and loose Prevent all articles of clothing from rigorously rubbing against the sores If you wear contact lenses, don’t rub your eyes or touch the lenses with unwashed hands
It’s best to take preventative measures against herpes and if infected, to start herpes treatment as soon as you notice the symptoms. This helps to minimize the frequency of the episodes and longevity of the outbreak.