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Herpes is an infection that comes from the herpes simplex virus. Although there is currently no cure, there are some treatments, including home remedies, that may help relieve the symptoms.

Herpes symptoms include sores on the skin. The infection typically affects the mouth, genitals, and anal area.

There are two types of herpes simplex virus: herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause genital herpes, but only HSV-1 causes oral herpes.

This article discusses several home remedies that may help a person manage the symptoms of herpes, along with some options for where to purchase items. It will also cover prevention and when to see a doctor.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

A hot or cold compress may ease the pain and itchiness of a herpes lesion. Applying heat to the area around the lips can also stop blisters from forming during an oral herpes infection.

A cold compress is easy to make at home. Wrap a flannel around an ice pack and apply it to the painful area.

However, do not apply the ice pack directly to the skin. It is also advisable to wash the area gently with salt water.

In addition, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cool compresses can be beneficial if a person has eye herpes, as they can reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling that appears in the lid area.

One 2019 study suggests that applying kanuka honey may be as effective in treating oral herpes as applying antiviral creams.

In the study, it took 8 days for the sores to heal with antiviral cream and 9 days with honey. However, oral herpes can get better within 1–2 weeks without treatment, and the study did not include a group that did not receive treatment.

It is also unclear whether the potential healing properties are unique to kanuka honey or whether they would be present in any type of honey.

Where to buy

People can purchase kanuka honey from various companies online. Below is one example.

Tahi Kanuka Honey

Tahi Kanuka Honey.

This raw kanuka honey comes from the white flowers of the kanuka tree in New Zealand.

The company states that its raw honey is 100% natural, unpasteurized, and does not contain added water, sugar, chemicals, or preservatives.

In addition, Tahi states that it produces this honey 100% ethically and sustainably. The company’s headquarters uses 100% solar energy, and the honey is carbon negative and biodiversity positive.

All profits from the sale of this honey go directly to conservation, community, and culture projects.

At the time of publishing, Tahi Kanuka Honey had a list price of around $35.

Older studies suggest that garlic may have properties that can lower the activity of several viruses, including both types of HSV.

Some studies suggest that allicin, a compound in garlic, may be effective against HSV. However, there is no clear evidence to suggest that garlic can prevent, cure, or treat herpes.

While garlic may have properties that are effective against HSV, research notes that garlic contains volatile organic sulfur compounds. These compounds can cause burns when a person uses raw garlic on the skin. The authors report that burns on the legs are common.

People should carefully consider the risk of burns when using raw garlic topically on their skin and around mucous membranes, such as the eyes, lips, and nose. If a person experiences any irritation, they should discontinue use and thoroughly wash the area immediately.

There are different ways of using garlic, including eating fresh garlic and taking garlic capsules.

Where to buy

Various companies sell garlic capsules and pills online. The following is one example.

Nature’s Bounty Garlic 2000 mg

These tablets are odor free and have an enteric coating. The company says the enteric coating keeps the tablets intact until they reach the small intestine.

Each tablet contains 400 milligrams (mg) of garlic extract, which Nature’s Bounty states is equivalent to 2000 mg of fresh garlic. The company recommends that people take one tablet up to three times per day with food.

At the time of publishing, Nature’s Bounty Garlic 2000 mg had a list price of around $26.

Various vitamins may help protect the body against the virus and relieve symptoms.

Herpes infections are more likely to recur if a person has low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D can protect the body against infection by improving part of the immune system.

The antioxidative properties of vitamin E may reduce the stress that infections such as herpes put on the cells of the immune system, thereby lowering the chance of infection.

Researchers are currently conducting clinical trials using vitamin E against herpes.

There is also ongoing research into the antiviral properties of vitamin C. Retrospective studies suggest that oral vitamin C in combination with antiviral treatment may reduce the recurrence of herpes simplex keratitis, a corneal infection resulting from HSV.

Where to buy

Companies and websites that sell vitamin supplements include:

Pure Encapsulations D3 (Vegan) Liquid

This vitamin D3 tincture is free of gluten and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Pure Encapsulations states that this product may help improve cardiovascular and immune health and support bone, prostate, and colon function.

The serving size of this tincture is 5 drops. Each serving contains 25 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D3.

At the time of publishing, Pure Encapsulations D3 (Vegan) Liquid cost $33.20.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin E 60 Capsules

These raw vitamin E capsules do not contain any GMOs, synthetic binders, fillers, or artificial flavors. Additional ingredients of this product include fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and selenium.

Garden of Life says these vitamin supplements can help support eye and immune health.

The company recommends people take two capsules daily, either with or without food. A person can also break the capsules apart and add the powder to their drinks.

Each serving size has the following nutritional facts:

  • Vitamin A: 900 mcg
  • Vitamin D: 50 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 125 mcg
  • Vitamin K: 72 mcg
  • Selenium: 61 mcg

At the time of publishing, Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin E 60 Capsules had a list price of $28.99.

Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies

These vitamin C gummies are suitable for individuals who are 4 years and older. The gummies are vegetarian, vegan, and GMO free.

Nordic Naturals states that these gummies may have antioxidant properties that could help support a person’s immune system.

The company recommends that people take two gummies a day with food. Each gummy contains 250 mg of vitamin C.

At the time of publishing, Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies cost $13.45. The company also offers a subscription service that reduces the cost of its products.

For genital herpes, applying petroleum jelly to the affected area can reduce the discomfort associated with urinating. It is important to wash the hands both before and after applying the jelly.

Medical professionals may also recommend prescription gels or ointments for herpes outbreaks.

Where to buy

Vaseline is a common brand that sells petroleum jelly in many stores and online.

Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly

A person can purchase Vaseline online through Amazon.

This product weighs 13 ounces and is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive, dry skin.

Vaseline states that its product helps seal in moisture, which may help the skin heal naturally. Additionally, petroleum jelly creates a barrier between the skin and outside elements.

At the time of publishing, Vaseline has a list price of around $12.50.

For centuries, people have used pomegranate as a home remedy for infection. Pomegranate contains zinc, which can help reduce herpes infections.

Pomegranate also contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These properties may support the immune system.

Other dietary recommendations include:

  • increasing intake of the amino acid lysine, though evidence as to its effectiveness is mixed
  • avoiding the amino acid arginine
  • avoiding excessive smoking and consumption of red wine and caffeine
  • identifying and removing food products that cause allergies

Soy protein, peanuts, walnuts, and fish are all rich sources of arginine. Avocados, chicken, cottage cheese, and pork are all sources of lysine.

An older study suggests that the following supplements may be effective at controlling herpes symptoms:

In a 2017 review, experts found that taking a minimum of 1 gram of lysine per day, in combination with a low arginine diet, can help people manage their symptoms.

Always check with a doctor before taking supplements. They may interact with other medications or have negative effects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor supplements, so it is not always possible to know exactly what a product contains.

Where to buy

Companies that stock lysine supplements include:

CVS Pharmacy L-Lysine Caplets 1000 mg

These caplets are suitable for vegetarians and free of allergens such as yeast, wheat, gluten, milk, and lactose.

CVS Pharmacy states that these caplets may help support healthy skin, collagen production, and tissue maintenance.

The company recommends taking one caplet a day on an empty stomach. Each caplet contains 1000 mg of L-lysine.

At the time of publishing, CVS Pharmacy L-Lysin Caplets 1000 mg cost $10.29.

Thorne Zinc Picolinate 30 mg

These capsules are free of gluten, dairy, and soy.

Thorne says these supplements may support immune health, reproductive health, and more.

The company recommends taking one capsule per day. Each capsule contains 30 mg of zinc.

At the time of publishing, Thorne Zinc Picolinate 30 mg cost $33.

The use of certain essential oils can reduce viral spread among HSV-1 cells.

Oils that may help include:

  • garden thyme
  • a flowering plant called Zataria multiflora
  • Eucalyptus caesia
  • rosemary
  • wormwood
  • hinoki cypress
  • the medicinal plant Tripterygium hypoglaucum
  • compounds in the oil of cloves and the essential oil of cinnamon and basil

A person can use oils in a diffuser, diluted in a carrier oil, added to a bath, or massaged on the skin. People should not consume essential oils, as some are toxic and can cause harm. It is important to consider anyone else in the area when using aromatherapy. Some essential oils are harmful to pets and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Using a carrier oil is important, as the essential oil may cause adverse effects if a person applies it directly to the skin. Carrier oils include almond oil and olive oil.

Researchers are conducting clinical trials to test for other potentially effective home remedies, including sesame oil, organic coconut oil, and jojoba oil.

There is not yet enough evidence to prove that a specific oil can help a person manage herpes symptoms.

There are medications available that can lower the chance of spreading the herpes virus and reduce the severity and frequency of the symptoms.

The main drugs that doctors will prescribe for this purpose are called antiviral medications. These include acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir, and penciclovir.

According to MedlinePlus, acyclovir can reduce first-time or repeated outbreaks that occur when individuals have genital herpes. It also reduces pain and speeds up the healing process in those who have chickenpox and shingles.

Some people may prefer taking valacyclovir and famciclovir, as they require less frequent dosing than acyclovir. However, these medications are not approved for children.

A doctor can prescribe antiviral medications to take orally, intravenously, or in the form of a topical cream.

A doctor may also recommend oral over topical treatment in some cases. For example, a 2017 study notes that oral acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are more effective than topical versions of the medications for the treatment of herpes labialis.

Online telehealth companies

Online companies that offer herpes medications include:

Blink Health

This telehealth service provides prescription herpes medication, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

People must have a current prescription or contact a doctor online through Blink Health to use this service.

Blink Health offers home delivery, or people can pick up medication at a local pharmacy. The company works with over 35,000 pharmacies, including Walmart Pharmacy, Safeway, and Albertson.

Lemonaid

This telehealth company provides prescription medications for herpes.

People will need to fill in an online health questionnaire and provide photo ID. This costs $25. Depending on the state a person resides in, Lemonaid may require a video or telephone consultation with a healthcare professional.

The company offers preventative treatment with a prescription that lasts for one year, or immediate treatment for outbreaks. People can choose home delivery or pick up their medication at a local pharmacy.

Most cases of herpes will produce no symptoms. However, if there are any symptoms, it is best for a person to avoid engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

A condom or another barrier method may offer some protection, but it may not entirely stop the transmission.

It is best to have an open discussion about herpes with a new sexual partner and consider undergoing a test. If one person receives a diagnosis of herpes, they should inform all their recent sexual partners, who may also need a test and treatment.

A person should see a doctor for testing if they have had sex with someone who has herpes or if they themselves have any symptoms.

If a person with herpes is pregnant, they should consult a medical professional. Although rare, the herpes virus may pass to the fetus before, during, or immediately after delivery. This could cause neonatal herpes, which can be dangerous.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 cause genital and oral herpes infections. There is currently no cure for herpes, and the infection will remain in a person’s system for life.

However, there are medications that can lower the frequency and severity of symptoms. There are also some home remedies that may work, including compresses, vitamins, and certain oils. Making dietary changes can also help.