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I was just diagnosed with herpes and am having a very painful outbreak. What can I do to manage the pain and speed up the healing?

Herpes cannot be cured, but there may be things you can do to manage the pain and get through an outbreak. Antiviral medication may relieve pain and discomfort and help the outbreak heal faster. Medication may also reduce the number of outbreaks. Follow your health care provider’s instructions about how to take this prescription.

In addition you can also:

  • Apply non-prescription cold sore medicine to sores around the mouth.
  • Use over-the-counter pain medication, but stronger pain relief may be necessary.
  • Drink fluids hourly to dilute urine so it’s less painful to pee.
  • People who have sores on the labia can sit in a bath or bowl of warm water to pee, or pour warm water on the area while peeing.
  • Soak the area for 20 minutes in salt water a few times per day.
    (half a cup of household salt in the bath or 2 teaspoons per litre of warm water)
  • Apply cool compresses to sores several times a day to relieve pain and itching.  Don’t apply ice directly to the skin, always wrap it in a cloth or towel.  Wash the cloth or towel once it has been used.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear or no underwear to allow for air flow if possible.
  • Wash hands thoroughly, especially after touching the affected area.

There are conditions you may want to avoid.

  • Avoid things that could trigger another outbreak, such as stress and getting a sunburn.
  • Do not pick at sores. They can get infected, which slows healing.
  • Do not use ointment or lotion on sores unless your provider prescribes it.
  • Do not wear nylon /synthetic underwear or pantyhose. Avoid tight-fitting pants.
  • Avoid activities that cause friction to the area until it has healed.

These are tips to manage the pain of symptoms, but there are other Sex Friendly Manitoba posts about herpes questions you may be wondering about.