I googled Herpes for a commenter on my post on life with herpes and decided to respond to the comment with a post and some loose facts on Herpes (don’t hate on the Wiki links):
Ok, so, it’s not an easy topic to discuss; not even with your doctor talking about your genitals turning colors, swelling, oozing, itching…it’s just awkward. But, like I said in my first post on herpes, it’s not the end of the world. There are two types of herpes, genital (typically HSV-2 [HSV being Herpes Simplex Virus]) and oral (typically HSV-1); most sites say that both types of the virus itself are quite similar. But there are other areas you can get it like your eyes and skin if you infect an open wound on your body; and there is also Herpes neonatorum which can be fatal to a baby and sounds just really awful (note: I had two babies vaginally but the first was born YEARS after I became infected). Herpes can be dormant in your body for 10 years I think is what I read years ago when first finding my way through the maze of “OMG I’m a disgusting whore!” Ok, whoa, back up! Who said whore? You’re not a whore and neither is whoever infected you (or were they, eh? *raises brows*). What happened is you had sex and you were very irresponsible about it but do you know who else was? About 16% of the WORLD’S population; 22% of adult Americans have HSV-2 and roughly “100 million Americans who are infected (HSV-1) acquired the virus when they were children. By the time they’re adults, only some 5% of people are bothered enough to consider oral HSV-1 a medical problem” (<–from the same link as the 16% number).
Like I said before, the first outbreak is the worst, the next few will be right up there in terms of how big the ‘clusters’ feel and how many appear in the affected area. After a few months of outbreaks, for me they were frequent for about 6 months – a year, then they taper off. There are tricks to this, it will happen on its own but there are tricks to reducing the numbers of outbreaks/flare ups early on.
Almost nothing about having herpes is good, it certainly isn’t awesome. But the thing about finding yourself in a dark period in life is that you can always find at least one star shining somewhere and I’m not a very positive person so this means something! I can’t say these go for everyone but I can share my so-called ‘positives’ and tricks if anyone would like:
First things first, stop crying and blow your nose. If you haven’t seen a doctor, get there because they might (probably) have better info than me. Secondly, calm down, this is literally, seriously, not the end of your life in any capacity though it may certainly feel like it is. I’m not saying don’t take it seriously, but don’t start mapping out your suicide. One of the worst things you can do right now or ever is freak out. The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to not only have an outbreak but to have a bad one as well. At first, they are frequent. For females, PMS can play a role so this means it’s time to reign in that temper, lady! Learn self-control, learn to listen to your body. This is where positives really come into play. Anyone in tune with their body (of course I speak from a females perspective but I assume it counts for guys too) can achieve great things within their personal lives. I don’t know about professionally…my professional life shit the bed before I was even 18. Different story!
When you are in those first stages of becoming accustomed to this horrible thing that has happened to you, you’re going to be so crazy over every little thing going on ‘down there’ and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not exactly healthy. You will notice everything, you will feel it and you will constantly question what was the likely cause. It’s not always an outbreak but this is how we teach ourselves to learn how to listen to our bodies and what we can learn while we are in the freak out phase. When you feel a twitch or tingle, go check it out if you have no idea what it was because that is better than worrying about it for hours and possiblY urging on an outbreak. Most likely it’ll be a pube that got moved some mysterious way or for us females, one of those usual things that make you count days on your mental calendar (that can’t be my period already, can it?). Each time you rush off to the bathroom for checks and discovered nothing, you may not think you learned something but you did. You just learned what is not the start of an outbreak. It’s all trial and error really.
It’s very difficult to stop and say breathe every time you get upset or overly excited but you must learn and it’s something everyone should learn, not just those of us that find we have to for our health. The more patient you are, the less responsive to negativity that you become, the easier things will be for you. Again, this pattern of behavior reaches beyond keeping Herpes in check so this is another positive. I learned to walk away from drama and things and people who tend to make me stress out or draw me into situations where I am overwhelmed. This doesn’t mean make a list of dramatic people and end relationships but if they start talking in ‘that way’ or try to get you riled, speak up, say something; you can be polite and there’s no need to explain anything other than: I would appreciate less drama in my life…or “I’m choosing a different path,” or simply “no thank you.” I am blunt so I would say something similar to: I really don’t need to stress about that or please don’t talk about that with me (yes, I’m mostly referring to gossip and related drama, it all leads to nothing good anyhow). So here we have another positive: Learn to distance yourself from negative people and speak up about your needs and wants; which, secondary to this is establishing boundaries and those are so very important to have in place and sturdy in your adult life anyway. If you’re young, you’re getting ahead of the game because you have reason to change and for the better. I count this as a positive.
How can I help my outbreaks become infrequent?
After you master inner peace – totally joking, I’m an average person full of turmoil and bad decisions, there’s no inner peace here. Once you learn that the saying “choose your battles wisely” is actually one of the best pieces of advice you could ever receive you will notice your outbreaks already tapering off. They won’t end, oh no sweetie, this is life long! But thankfully, you will reach a point where months between outbreaks turn into years. I went 3 years once without an outbreak. So what do you do when they are still happening but you have learned the forewarnings?
Have I gone over the signs? Tingles; they are slight and kind of almost ‘tickle’ and I tell the difference between an outbreak tingle and a normal sensation by the length of the feeling. It sounds weird but if it’s more than a few seconds long, it’s a sign of something. Sensitivity in the commonly affected area is usually a sign. Slight burning. An irritation and sense of discomfort, these are signs of an oncoming outbreak. Especially if you check and you don’t see anything but just touching the area makes you flinch or feel like you should be flinching, then most likely it’s an outbreak. I think this is why they say there are no clear signs of an upcoming outbreak. It’s different for every person and sometimes the symptoms don’t actually appear but the sensation is still there.
One thing you can do to start with when you fear an outbreak is coming is apply ice to the predicted soon-to-be affected area. Straight ice, no cloth needed unless you prefer it. I don’t know why this works but it can. Loose under clothing, preferably cotton. It’s not sexy, but you’re not looking to be sexy with your business all icky, anyway. Baby powder with cornstarch, just a light dusting will help keep the area dry; keep the powder light because it just gets nasty if there’s too much (they say the blisters ‘weep’ for a reason). One thing I do that no doctor or site told me about is epsom salt baths. Fill the tub with warm water and sprinkle in a somewhat even layer of the salt across the bottom (probably about a cup or so). This will also help dry out the blisters. What I also add is betadine or povidone solution. It’s an antiseptic cleanser that I guess is similar to iodine. I just know when Krank Ficken lost the tip of his pinky they told him to soak his finger in this solution to help keep away infection. You can get it at any store right next to epsom salts and witch hazel. Personally, these things should be kept in your house right beside the isopropyl alcohol and peroxide because they are handy when you have kids or are accident prone…or human.
Some simple self-care tips to ease the burden
Using the restroom during an outbreak can be so super painful and uncomfortable. I have been brought to tears because I peed too hard and fast. I don’t have many tips for this but I have found my own way and I will share them even though it is actually embarrassing. I prep before I pee. I wet a large wad of toilet paper, has to be large because it will disintegrate under the water if it’s just a square or two. It’s best to be able to reach the sink while on the toilet so you don’t have to worry about setting the wet wad on the counter (ew). My reason for this is the wiping. It can burn like a mother! You don’t want to touch the area, like at all, but wiping is necessary if you’re a reasonably clean person. So instead of wiping right away, I squeeze out the cold water over my woman-ness to reduce the burn. Wipe/pat and then repeat if necessary. I don’t have a problem with the back side except once the outbreak was bigger than I was used to so I just dripped the water from the back. Ugh, so very personal. Also it helps to lean forward when you pee.
Don’t scratch the area, not even through your clothing. You don’t want to tear open a blister Try not to wear tight clothing, especially in the heat. It can create some extreme irritation to an already irritated area. This doesn’t mean sweatpants all the way but try not to squeeze into those skinny jeans for the next week or so. If you live in a house where you can do this: place a cool cloth over the affected area to relieve any persistent burning but make sure you dry the area before putting your under clothes back on. Try to keep the area as dry as possible. And remember ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS and do so as often as possible. You could have an active outbreak and not even know it so hey! Another positive: practice good hygiene until it becomes a reflex more than a habit.
One of the most important things to learn is that you are not disgusting. You might have something gross going on but you are not disgusting and you are not worthless now nor will you ever be. You might meet someone you feel safe enough with to tell them about this and they might be total dicks and reject you openly but this is their flaw not yours and hey another positive: we don’t need those types of people in our lives, do we? It’s difficult to be positive but there’s no real need to be negative. No matter what, you will have to learn to deal with this so you can live with it. You are not abnormal, dirty or a whore/slut. Those are things society tells us to feel when these things happen but it’s not right anymore than it is correct. You are still a person, still decent and still worth being a friend with or lovers. Information is your best friend in every situation and this is no exception. You will be fine, life will most surely move on and you will participate and you will enjoy it. Don’t let this define you because you are still you.