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Herpes: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Remedy

Herpes is a group of viruses that can cause infections. Herpes virus infections are generally characterized by dry skin, blisters, or open sores that
Herpes: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Remedy

Herpes: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Remedy

What is herpes

Herpes is a group of viruses that can cause infections. Herpes virus infections are generally characterized by dry skin, blisters, or open sores that ooze. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella-zoster virus (VZ) are types of herpes viruses that commonly attack humans.

The herpes virus can attack anyone. A history of contact with sufferers of this viral infection and a weak immune system can increase a person's risk of being infected with the herpes virus.

Herpes viruses are divided into three large groups, namely alpha (α) herpesviruses, beta (β) herpesviruses, and gamma (γ) herpesviruses. Of these three groups, eight types of herpes viruses can infect humans, namely Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1), Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV 2), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpesvirus 6 (HBLV), Herpesvirus 7, Herpesvirus 8 Kaposi's sarcoma.

Causes of Herpes

Although many types of herpes viruses can attack humans, the alpha herpesvirus group is the one that most often causes infections. Some types of viruses from this group are:

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1)

HSV 1 is a type of herpes virus that often causes oral herpes (mouth) or labial herpes (lips). However, HSV 1 can also spread from the mouth to the genitals and cause genital herpes in people who receive oral sex from people with oral herpes.

HSV 1 can spread through direct contact from a herpes sufferer to a healthy person, for example, through kissing, sharing eating utensils or lip cosmetics, such as lipstick.

In most cases, HSV 1 is transmitted from HSV 1 sufferers who have no symptoms. However, the risk of transmission will be higher if there is contact with sufferers who have open wounds due to HSV 1.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV 2)

HSV 2 is the leading cause of genital herpes. This viral infection can recur with varying frequency of recurrence for each sufferer.

The HSV 2 virus is transmitted through direct contact with wounds on herpes sufferers, for example, during sexual intercourse. Occasionally, HSV 2 can also be transmitted from mother to baby during delivery.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV)

VZV is a virus that causes chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster). Chickenpox occurs when the varicella-zoster virus infects a person for the first time.

Meanwhile, herpes zoster, also known as skin herpes, occurs when the inactive VZV virus in the body recurs. A person can also be infected with this virus from, someone suffering from shingles.

VZV is mainly transmitted through direct contact with people with chickenpox. This viral infection can be recognized by the appearance of skin nodules filled with fluid (vesicles). VZV can also be transmitted through direct contact with the fluid in the vesicles or saliva splashes that come out when the sufferer sneezes or coughs.

Usually, the virus is in the sufferer's body for 7–21 days before a rash or other symptoms appear. However, sufferers can transmit the varicella-zoster virus to other people 48 hours before the rash appears.

Herpes risk factors

Herpes can affect anyone in any age group. However, this viral infection is more likely to occur in someone who frequently comes into contact with herpes sufferers, such as medical staff or family members who care for herpes patients.

For herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2, the following factors can increase the risk of being infected with this virus:

  • Female
  • Frequently changing sexual partners
  • Have a weak immune system due to taking certain drugs or suffering from HIV/AIDS
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted diseases

Meanwhile, several factors that can put a person at greater risk of being infected with the VZV virus are:

  • Under 12 years of age
  • Have a history of direct contact with chickenpox sufferers
  • Working or doing activities at a school or special children's facility, especially if a child is experiencing chicken pox
  • Have a weak immune system, either due to disease or side effects of medication

Apart from causing chickenpox, the VZV virus can also cause shingles. Several factors and conditions can increase a person's risk of experiencing shingles, namely:

  • Aged 60 years and over
  • Have a previous history of chickenpox
  • Suffering from diseases that can weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer

Currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or using immunosuppressant drugs.

Herpes Symptoms

Symptoms usually appear within 3-7 days after exposure to the virus. Herpes infections typically occur in several stages. Symptoms or complaints that can arise at each stage can vary, as explained below:

1). Primary stage

The primary stage occurs on the 2nd to 8th day after the herpes infection occurs. The symptoms that appear in this phase are blister rashes on the skin that are small and painful.

The blister rash usually contains clear or cloudy fluid. The blister rash can burst, causing open sores. The area around the blister rash will also be reddish.

2). Latent stage

At this stage, the blisters and sores that previously appeared will subside. However, in this phase, the virus grows and spreads to the nerves near the spinal cord under the skin.

3). Decay stage

The virus begins to multiply in the nerve endings of the body's organs. Suppose the infected nerve endings are located in body organs that produce fluids, such as the testicles or vagina. In that case, the herpes virus can be contained in body fluids such as semen and vaginal mucus. Usually, in this phase, sufferers do not complain of any special symptoms.

4). Recurrence stage (reappearance)

At this stage, the blister rash on the skin that occurred in the primary location can reappear, but usually, it is not as severe as the previous blisters and wounds. Other symptoms that can arise at this recurrence stage are itching, tingling and pain that appear in the area of infection in the first stage. At this stage, herpes can also reappear in other areas of the body, such as the eyes.

As previously mentioned, symptoms or complaints when infected with the herpes virus can vary, depending on the current phase, the type of virus infecting, and the sufferer's immune system.

Keep in mind not all herpes sufferers experience the same symptoms. In fact, this condition sometimes does not cause any symptoms. However, in some people who experience a herpes virus infection, the following symptoms will appear:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Next, specific symptoms will appear according to the type of herpes virus that infects and the location or part of the body that is infected, namely:

Symptoms of HSV 1 infection or oral herpes

Symptoms will appear in the mouth and the area around it in this condition. Symptoms that may appear are:

  • Pain, itching, burning, or prickling on the lips
  • Blisters, small blisters, or canker sores on the lips
  • Painful blisters that interfere with eating

Symptoms of HSV infection 2

In sufferers of HSV 2 infection or genital herpes, some of the symptoms commonly experienced are:

Swelling of the genital skin or the area around it that feels itchy, painful, and accompanied by a burning sensation

  • Painful sores on the genitals, buttocks, anus or thighs
  • Pain when urinating (dysuria)
  • Discharge from the vagina
  • Penis skin is dry, sore and itchy

Symptoms of VZV infection

Meanwhile, with the herpes zoster virus infection which causes chickenpox, a skin rash filled with fluid (vesicles) will appear that feels itchy. This rash can spread throughout the body.

If a recovered chickenpox sufferer experiences shingles, complaints will appear on one side of the body, such as pain and a burning sensation, followed by blisters on the skin.

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of herpes, as mentioned above, especially if a blistering rash appears on the skin for which there is no known cause.

An examination needs to be done immediately if a blister rash appears in your child who is less than 8 weeks old. Herpes virus infections in babies can develop more quickly and can cause serious complications.

If you have a weak immune system, see a doctor when blisters appear on your skin. Severe infections and complications occur more easily in herpes sufferers with weak immune systems.

Difficulty eating due to HSV 1 infection risks causing dehydration. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience dehydration due to this viral infection, which is characterized by reduced urine output, dry mouth, fatigue and irritability.

Especially for pregnant women who are or have ever suffered from genital herpes, consult a doctor regarding what must be done to prevent the virus from being transmitted to the baby.

Herpes Diagnosis

To diagnose herpes, the doctor will ask questions about the patient's symptoms, activity history and medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination to see whether there is a fever, the type of skin rash that appears, and the pattern of spread of the rash.

Doctors can diagnose herpes through questions and answers and the results of a physical examination. However, to strengthen the diagnosis and confirm the type of herpes virus that is infecting, the doctor will carry out further examinations, such as:

Viral culture

Herpes virus culture aims to detect the herpes virus. Herpes virus culture is carried out by taking samples via the swab method from the infected skin or genital area for further examination in the laboratory.

Viral culture examination is mainly carried out to detect or confirm the presence of the herpes virus and determine the infecting type.

Tzank Check

The Tzank examination is done by taking a sample of the skin rash and then examining it under a microscope. The results of this examination can determine whether the lesions that appear are caused by the herpes virus. Even so, the Tzank examination cannot identify the type of herpes virus that causes the infection.

Antibody test

The antibody test aims to detect antibodies to the herpes virus. This test is carried out by taking a blood sample then examining it in the laboratory to confirm the presence of antibodies formed due to herpes virus infection.

The antibody test results will be very helpful in diagnosing patients who do not have wounds or blisters on the skin. This examination is often used to diagnose HSV 1 or HSV 2 infections.

Apart from the tests mentioned above, in some cases, doctors may recommend a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to detect herpes virus infections, especially those that have caused infections in the eyes or central nervous system.

Herpes Treatment

In general, wounds and blisters caused by herpes can heal by themselves within 2-4 weeks. However, the virus may remain in the sufferer's body without causing symptoms.

Until now, no treatment method can eliminate the herpes virus from the body. The focus of treatment with herpes medication is to help relieve complaints, prevent transmission of herpes, and reduce the risk of complications.

Some antiviral drugs that can be used to treat herpes virus infections are:

  • Acyclovir
  • Valacyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Penciclovir

Apart from taking antiviral drugs, you can also take natural herpes drugs as well as several measures that can relieve complaints and speed up recovery due to herpes virus infection, namely:

  • Consuming paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain
  • Compress the skin rash with warm or cold water
  • Use lukewarm water for bathing
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Keep the wound area dry and clean

Herpes Prevention

To avoid spreading the herpes virus to other people, several preventive measures that can be taken are:

  • Avoid physical contact with other people, especially those who have open wounds.
  • Wash your hands with running water and soap regularly.
  • Apply the medicine to the rash using cotton wool so that your hands do not touch the area infected with the herpes virus.
  • Don't share items that can spread the virus, such as glasses, cups, towels, clothes and makeup equipment.
  • Do not engage in oral sex, kissing, or other sexual activities while symptoms of herpes appear.
  • Avoid kissing the baby too often.

Especially for genital herpes sufferers, avoid all forms of sexual activity while herpes symptoms are still present. Please remember that even if you use a condom, the herpes virus can spread through skin contact that is not protected by a condom.

For women who planning pregnancy, undergo tests for toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus and herpes (TORCH test) first. Apart from being an early detection, the purpose of this test is so that infected mothers can undergo treatment before becoming pregnant, thereby preventing transmission of the virus to the fetus.

Natural Remedy for herpes

Herpes is usually treated with antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, and several additional drugs, such as pain relievers. This herpes medication is available in tablet or ointment form, which is useful for stopping infection as well as relieving itching and burning on the skin

Herpes treatment through antivirals will be better if combined with natural medicine. Several traditional ingredients can be processed to help treat skin problems caused by herpes virus infections.


Oatmeal is known to contain protein, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This natural ingredient can also function as an emollient, which is an ingredient that can increase skin moisture, especially on dry skin.

When the skin is infected, it loses moisture more easily, making it more difficult to recover. Oatmeal can moisturize parts of the skin infected with the chickenpox virus and relieve the itching that arises from the chickenpox rash.

As a natural herpes medicine, oatmeal is usually mixed into warm water used for bathing or soaking children infected with chicken pox. Apart from using raw oatmeal seeds, you can also use oatmeal that has been dissolved and mixed in warm water.

Baking soda

Kitchen ingredients such as baking soda can be used as a traditional medicine to relieve itching on skin affected by herpes infections.

Like oatmeal, you can dissolve baking soda in warm water for bathing and showering. Baking soda consists of sodium and bicarbonate ions which can dissolve easily in water.

You can also use baking soda paste to rub gently with cotton wool on the affected skin. Applying it regularly can speed up herpes sores drying out.

Apart from baking soda, another kitchen ingredient that can be used as a traditional medicine for herpes which is processed in the same way is corn flour.


Honey has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve infections caused by the herpes virus. Apart from that, the propolis content in honey can also moisturize dry skin due to infection.

Using honey as a natural medicine can be applied directly to the drying part of the rash or herpes wound, without needing to dissolve it first. To be safer, make sure you consult a doctor beforehand.

In one study from Translational Biomedicine, manuka honey had stronger anti-inflammatory properties than regular honey. In this way, manuka honey is said to be able to reduce the number of varicella-zoster viruses on infected skin.

However, further research is needed to test the efficacy of manuka honey as a natural medicine for chickenpox and shingles.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is believed to have many benefits for skin health, including healing various skin diseases.

As a natural remedy for herpes, aloe vera can soothe skin that is inflamed due to infection. The liquid or extract from aloe vera can be taken without needing to be dissolved beforehand. You can then apply it directly to the dry part of the herpes rash so that it heals more quickly.

Tea tree

Another natural ingredient that also has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties is tea tree. However, to safely use tea trees as a natural remedy for herpes, the tea tree must first be dissolved chemically.

Tea tree applied directly to the skin has the risk of causing irritation. A safer way is to use lotion products that contain tea trees. However, be careful using tea trees as a herbal remedy for herpes because it can cause the skin to become too dry.


The allicin content in garlic is known to help overcome infections caused by the herpes simplex virus.

However, garlic generally has strong anti-inflammatory properties, so it can relieve pain caused by other types of herpes viruses.

Garlic, as a traditional medicine for herpes, can be consumed directly to treat glandular fever (mononucleosis) or rubbed onto the affected skin after being crushed and mixed with coconut or olive oil.

Lemongrass and lemon juice


Lemongrass has health benefits, including helping relieve anxiety, helping reduce cholesterol levels, preventing infections, improving dental and oral health, relieving pain, increasing the number of red blood cells and reducing bloating.


  • 5 sticks of lemongrass
  • 2 squeezes of lemon
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 600 ml of water


finely chopped lemongrass, boiled with water, let it boil, and the color of the water changes slightly after boiling, turn off the stove and wait until warm strain, then add honey and lemon juice. It's best to drink this recipe twice a day.

Lemongrass contains carbohydrates, fibre, protein, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and iron. The vitamins in lemongrass are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B9 (folate), and Vitamin B3 (niacin). Lemongrass leaves contain antioxidant compounds such as chlorogenic acid, isoorientin, and swertiajaponin.

Conclusion of Herpes and its Remedies

Herpes is a group of viruses that can cause infections. Herpes virus infections are generally characterized by dry skin, blisters, or open sores that ooze. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) and varicella-zoster virus (VZ) are types of herpes viruses that commonly attack humans. The herpes virus can attack anyone. A history of contact with sufferers of this viral infection and a weak immune system are factors that can increase a person's risk of being infected with the herpes virus.

Herpes is usually treated with antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, and several additional drugs, such as pain relievers. This herpes medication is available in tablet or ointment form, which is helpful in stopping infection and relieving itching and burning on the skin. Several natural ingredients can be processed to help overcome skin problems caused by herpes virus infections, such as oatmeal, onions, lemongrass, lime, and so on.

Healthy Recipes JSR Page. 146
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