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Herpes: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Cost

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2023

What is Herpes?

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Herpes is the term given to a group of viruses that infect humans. Herpes is a highly infectious virus that may be transmitted by direct contact with the skin sores or saliva of an infected individual.

Types of Herpes

There are two types of HSV:

HSV-1 (also known as oral herpes): Cold sores and blisters around the lips and on the face are common symptoms. It may be transmitted by skin contact or saliva.

HSV-2 (also known as genital herpes): It primarily affects the genitals but can also be spread to other areas of the body. This kind of herpes is most usually transmitted via sexual contact with an infected individual.

It is important to note that while there are two types of HSV, both can cause infections in any area of the body.

What causes Herpes?

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is what's responsible for causing herpes. It is a highly contagious virus that can spread through direct contact with an infected person, such as:

  • Through kissing
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Through contact with contaminated objects.

What are the symptoms of Herpes?

Herpes often manifests itself in the form of painful blisters or ulcers in and around the genital area and the anus. Other symptoms may include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pain in the affected area.

    Some people with herpes may also experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.In rare cases, some individuals may have an outbreak of sores in other areas of the body such as the mouth or face.


How can you prevent Herpes?

It is important to practice safe sex, including using a condom during any kind of sexual activity and avoiding sex if there are sores present.Avoiding sharing personal items such as towels and razors can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Herpes - Diagnosis and Tests

Physical examination: It involves looking for any visible sores or blisters that may be present. The doctor may also take a swab from the lesions to observe under a microscope for signs of HSV.

  • Blood tests: They are used to detect antibodies against the virus in the blood and past exposure to HSV-1 or HSV-2.
  • Urine tests: They can also detect past exposure to HSV-1 or HSV-2, as well as current infections in some cases.
  • Culture tests: They involve growing cells from a swab sample taken from an active lesion in order to identify which type of herpes virus is present.

It is important to note that even if no symptoms are present at the time of testing, it is still possible to have a positive test result if you have been exposed to HSV in the past. Therefore it's important for your doctor to discuss your medical history with you before making any diagnosis based on test results alone.

What are possible complications of Herpes?

Herpes may lead to a variety of complications, including:

  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Encephalopathy
  • Blindness
  • Kidney problems
  • Death (in rare cases).
  • In some cases it may also lead to more serious long-term health issues such as nerve damage or organ failure.

Other complications include a higher risk of HIV/AIDS if the person has unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus.

Home Remedies for Herpes?

A few home remedies for herpes include:

  • Honey and turmeric powder should be mixed together in the same proportions and then applied to the afflicted region.
  • Create a paste by combining the neem leaves, the basil leaves, and the turmeric powder, and then apply it to the region that is affected.
  • Drink a glass of coriander juice mixed with some ginger juice every morning on an empty stomach.
  • Create a paste by grinding sesame seeds with water, then apply the mixture to the region that needs treatment and let it sit there overnight.
  • Drink 2 teaspoons of amla or Indian gooseberry juice mixed with 1 teaspoon honey every day.

What to eat in Herpes?

Consuming foods that are rich in lysine but low in arginine may assist in the alleviation of symptoms and the prevention of outbreaks. Herpes sufferers might benefit from eating foods like:

  • Lean proteins such as fish, chicken, eggs, and tofu.
  • Greens including spinach, kale, and broccoli, as well as Brussels sprouts.
  • Fruits such as apples, oranges, papaya, and strawberries.
  • Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts.
  • Whole grains like quinoa or oats.
  • Yogurt and probiotic foods.

What not to eat in Herpes?

It is important to avoid foods that might cause an outbreak or increase herpes symptoms, such as:

  • Nuts and seeds, which are rich in arginine.
  • Chocolate
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugars
  • Alcohol

Herpes Treatment

  • Antiviral medications: Antiviral medications are the mainstay of treatment for herpes. These medications can help reduce symptoms and shorten a herpes outbreak.
  • Surgical debridement: In some cases, a doctor may need to surgically remove damaged tissue from the affected area. This procedure is known as debridement and is typically done when the lesion is severe or has not responded to other treatments.
  • Cryotherapy: This treatment includes freezing contaminated tissue using liquid nitrogen or similar freezing agent. It may help lessen symptoms such as discomfort and itching and speed up healing time.
  • Laser therapy: A doctor may use laser therapy to destroy infected cells in severe cases of genital herpes or other lesions caused by the virus.
  • Lifestyle Habits: It is important for people with herpes to practice safe sex and use condoms even when there are no visible signs of an outbreak in order to reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to others. Additionally, it is important for people with herpes infections to maintain good hygiene habits and avoid touching or scratching lesions or sores in order to prevent further spread of the virus.

Which doctor to consult for Herpes?

The best type of doctor to consult for herpes is an infectious disease specialist. These doctors are experienced in diagnosing, treating, and managing infectious diseases, including those caused by viruses like herpes. They can help create a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and provide advice on how to reduce the risk of passing the virus on to others.

Which are the best medicines for Herpes?

  • Antiviral medications: The best medicines for herpes are antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. These drugs may help to minimise the intensity of herpes outbreaks and the danger of the virus spreading to other places of the body.
  • Topical creams: Topical creams containing lidocaine or benzocaine may be applied to help relieve pain and itching caused by herpes outbreaks.
  • Corticosteroids: In extreme cases, doctors may inject corticosteroids directly into lesions or sores to reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with herpes outbreaks.

Such injections should only be done under medical supervision in order to avoid any potential side effects. Additionally, they can help to shorten the duration of an outbreak and decrease the risk of complications associated with herpes.

How long does it take to recover from Herpes?

Generally, the symptoms of a herpes outbreak will last for 7-10 days and may take up to 3 weeks for the affected area to completely heal.In certain circumstances, complete healing might take many months.

Additionally, people who experience recurrent outbreaks may need to take antiviral medications in order to reduce symptoms and speed up healing time.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Herpes treatment outcomes vary based on the medicine used and the intensity of the illness.

Generally, treatment with antiviral medications can help reduce the duration and frequency of outbreaks, as well as reduce symptoms. However, this does not guarantee a cure for herpes, as outbreaks may still occur in some cases.

What are the post- treatments guidelines?

The treatment of post-surgical herpes will depend on the type of herpes virus that is causing the infection, as well as the severity and location of the infection. Treatment may include:

  • Immune system support: To help your body fight off a herpes infection, your doctor may suggest taking supplements that contain vitamin C, zinc, and lysine.
  • Warm compresses or baths: To reduce discomfort and irritation associated with herpes lesions, you may find relief by applying warm compresses or taking warm baths with Epsom salt.
  • Pain relief medication: Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may help lessen the discomfort associated with post-surgical herpes lesions.

What is the cost of Herpes treatments in India?

The cost of treatment for Herpes in India varies depending on the type of treatment and the severity of the infection.The cost of antiviral medications in India can range from around ₹90 to ₹240 for a 10-day course. Other treatments for Herpes, such as topical creams or ointments, may also be recommended depending on the severity of the infection. These treatments cost around ₹30 to ₹400 per month.

What are side-effects of Herpes treatments?

The most common side effects of herpes treatments are:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Other potential side effects may include rash and itching.

In rare cases, more serious side effects such as kidney failure or liver damage may occur.

Herpes - Outlook / Prognosis

If you are suffering from any complications relating to Herpes then you should consult a doctor nearby as they can cause complications like meningitis, encephalitis, encephalopathy, etc. in which treatment courses can range from a few months to years depending on the severity of the situation.

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Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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