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How to Prevent Herpes Outbreaks While Traveling

by Aishwarya Gaikwad
How to Prevent Herpes Outbreaks While Traveling

Do you get herpes outbreaks while traveling? For some, it’s pretty much guaranteed. The worst that can happen is waking up in a new city that you can’t wait to explore and feel a herpes blister clouding your day, or let’s say days. 

Once you’ve had a herpes outbreak, the virus lies inactive in nerve cells in your skin and may reappear as another cold sore in the same place as before. Reemergence often comes from sun exposure. That means, time spent outdoors, such as going to the beach, may cause a new outbreak. But you can’t peace yourself with just avoiding sun exposure. That means you can have any sexual interaction, it means you’ll feel uncomfortable and that you can’t try clothes on and go shopping, not to mention a whole of other things that you don’t want to deal with while on vacay. But why does it happen when you’re on the go? Is it because when we are on vacation, we tend to try a lot of different stuff? 

What Triggers Oral Herpes Outbreak? 

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 67% of the world’s populace lives with herpes infection (HSV-1). The virus can easily be transmitted from one individual to another by contacts, such as kissing and shared toothbrushes and utensils. Kids often contact the HSV-1 because of their affinity and curiosity for exploring objects using their mouths. 

Once you’ve contracted the virus, it can lie dormant for months or years. Factors like excess exposure to UV light, stress, and trauma to the oral cavity and lips may trigger a breakout of sores on the lips and mouth. Women may also experience a herpes outbreak in the mouth due to the hormonal changes caused by menstruation.

  • How Sunlight Trigger Oral Herpes Outbreaks

 HSV-1 outbreaks can occur for a variety of reasons. More often than not, it’s triggered by another disease that temporarily overpowers your immune system. In most cases, the virus develops on its own as it goes from dormant to active within your body. 

Stress and sexual activity are other common triggers for herpes. While stress triggers the dormant virus within your body, causing fever, sexual interaction triggers some herpes infections like HSV-2. 

Yet, one of the most common triggers for herpes is sunlight. Exposure to UV light is a popular, scientifically documented herpes trigger that activates the dormant virus and leads to an outbreak, particularly in patients with the HSV-1 form of the virus. 

The virus affects everyone differently. Most people with HSV-1 are asymptomatic, meaning you can have the virus but never experience outbreaks. Sunlight is a relatively common trigger for oral herpes or HSV-1 because exposure to a relatively small amount of UV radiation can distress the immune system making the viral activity more of an issue. 

Studies also showed that exposure to sunlight could actively stimulate herpes and increase the potential of an outbreak, as the HSV-1 virus is transported from the nerve ganglia into cells in the mouth and lips. In other words, spending more time at the beach can affect your immune system and potentially activate a dormant HSV-1. 

What to Eat?

Everyone who ever experienced herpes knows that outbreaks can be painful, itchy, and hugely uncomfortable. Those with herpes can have more than three outbreaks every year. While there is no cure for it, medication can help alleviate the severity of the outbreaks. 

Yet, there’s also another way to help prevent experiencing while traveling: watch what you eat! Reducing or avoiding your intake of certain foods can help. 

  • Rethink Your Meal and Snack Choices

Foods with higher arginine might be your favorite – but they may also be your worst enemy if you have herpes. And, the HSV-1 virus needs arginine to grow. If you want to keep your lysine ratio up to avoid triggering the virus or heal them, it’s best to eat foods rich in lysine and higher in arginine. 

Foods that are high in arginine include: 

  • Raisins 
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat 
  • Chocolate 
  • Oats
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy 

By limiting the foods high in arginine, you’re essentially reducing your chances of a herpes outbreak.

Foods with Higher Lysine to Arginine Level to Consume: 

  • Milk and cheese 
  • Butter 
  • Greek Yogurt 
  • Nutritional yeast 
  • Dried beans 
  • Apples, beets, apricots, mangoes 

Easy Habits to Prevent an Outbreak While on the Go

Even if you’ve already been infected with the HSV-1, there’s a lot you can do to keep your cells defensive against the attack. If an outbreak doesn’t seem to come to an end, and you’re simply too disheartened to leave for your next vacation, you can always opt for tele health services to ask for professional healthcare advice on the matter.

  • Improve Your Immune System

HSV-1 works best when your immune system is compromised, so following a diet with foods that are certain to heighten your immunity is a proven way to ward the virus off. Implement into your diets lots of veggies and fresh fruits (especially those rich in vitamin C) as well as probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt. These foods are known to keep your cells healthy and naturally improve your cells health.

  • Take Supplements with Vitamin C and E

Vitamin C can boost your white blood cell number and help your immune system ward off foreign invaders, while vitamin E naturally soothes and helps repair inflammation and damage. Implementing foods filled with these vitamins will prepare your body to defeat any herpes outbreak ruining your vacation.

  • Use Sunscreen

While it may sound strange enough, too much UV light exposure can make your body vulnerable to an HSV-1 outbreak. Applying products that contain sunscreen to your lips while spending your time on the beach will reduce the risk of frequent outbreaks.  

While we all want to do all of the fun things on our trip, it is important to remember to get plenty of rest, protect our skin and do our best to follow a balanced diet.

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