How to Stop Viral Shedding (Naturally)
A virus is an infectious microbe, invisible to the naked eye, that infects the cells of living organisms. Viruses often lead to disease through the destruction of cells or the disruption of cellular function.
Put simply, humans should avoid these infectious microbes. Unfortunately, part of the natural life cycle of a virus is viral shedding. This is how the virus reproduces and spreads — its primary goal.
A virus common to humans is the herpes simplex virus, or HSV, a highly transmissible virus with variants that cause both oral and genital herpes. Both forms of herpes spread through viral shedding, meaning you should avoid direct contact with others during active outbreaks and take precautions even between outbreaks.
In order to protect yourself and others, let’s review how to stop viral shedding naturally when it comes to the herpes simplex virus.
What Is Viral Shedding?
As stated above, a virus sheds in order to spread from person to person. This is the primary goal of the virus — to infect as many organisms as possible.
When you’re diagnosed with a virus like HSV, it becomes your responsibility to limit the shedding as much as possible to protect those around you.
The herpes virus goes through specific viral shedding patterns, especially in cases of genital herpes. Genital herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2, or HSV-2, while oral herpes, also called cold sores, is usually caused by type 1, or HSV-1. However, close contact with both types of the virus can lead to either genital herpes or oral herpes.
For most people, the first herpes outbreak, which can last a few weeks or more, is the most severe and has the greatest amount of viral shedding. In the years after an initial outbreak, the shedding patterns typically change. The virus may shed less, especially after the first year, but any active sores remain highly contagious.
Viral shedding is always underway when you’re experiencing an active herpes outbreak. You will also experience asymptomatic shedding, in which the virus sheds even in the absence of an outbreak. During either instance, invisible particles from the virus can spread to others through close physical contact.
Now that you understand viral shedding, let’s take a closer look at how to stop viral shedding naturally.
How to Stop Viral Shedding Naturally
First, it’s essential to understand that there is no cure for herpes, and there is no way to completely stop viral shedding. Even if you take a prescription antiviral drug like valacyclovir, a shedding process will still occur.
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how to stop viral shedding naturally because shedding can’t be completely stopped, but we can explore the possibility of slowing down viral shedding using natural remedies.
One of the best ways to slow down viral shedding is to expedite the healing process of the herpes sores. Once the sores are completely gone and the skin beneath fully heals, the virus is less likely to be actively shedding, especially in the case of recurring oral HSV-1 outbreaks.
Here are a few natural remedies that may help with the healing process:
- Aloe vera’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties promote healing.
- Echinacea reduces the lifetime of individual herpes sores by bolstering your immune system.
- Lemon balm also reduces the duration of outbreaks through its antiviral properties.
- Tea tree oil is antiviral and antibacterial, which not only promotes healing but also prevents infections (be sure to dilute).
In addition to trying these remedies, expedite the healing process by letting the herpes sores breathe. Don’t cover them with bandages or heavy makeup. As with other types of wounds, exposing these areas to the air will help them heal faster.
Other Ways to Treat Herpes and Reduce Viral Shedding Naturally
Making a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle may naturally help treat herpes outbreaks.
Adding a few supplements to your daily routine can be an effective way to prevent herpes outbreaks — and reduce viral shedding — naturally. Consider the following:
- Probiotics for a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin B complex to support cell growth, your metabolism, and your energy levels.
- Lysine to help reduce the number of herpes outbreaks (based on ongoing research).
Eating a well-balanced diet and limiting highly processed foods bolsters your immune system and enables it to fight viruses. Choose whole foods, lean proteins, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds, which may significantly reduce inflammation.
A word of caution on diet: If you have an eating disorder or have ever experienced disordered eating or body dysmorphia, don’t make dietary changes without support from a qualified mental health professional. Even if you’re adjusting your diet for health reasons, any change in habit or thinking around food could be triggering. Take care of yourself and reach out for help.
If you search the internet for a few minutes, you’ll find dozens of home remedies used to treat herpes naturally. You might have some of them already in your cupboard.
A few popular remedies include:
- Apple cider vinegar diluted with water
- Baking soda and water paste
- Cornstarch and water paste
- Olive oil mixed with crushed garlic
- Ice pack
Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of light therapy in treating outbreaks caused by the herpes simplex virus. Specific wavelengths of light penetrate the layers of the skin to stimulate the cells and promote healing from within.
Dermatologists have found that light therapy may reduce certain symptoms related to herpes outbreaks, including pain caused by sores and viral shedding.
Light therapy administered through handheld devices, like the Luminance RED for genital herpes and oral herpes, is a safe, easy means of helping existing sores heal faster and preventing new outbreaks.
Protect Your Partner
If you have herpes, it’s extremely important to protect your partner from the herpes virus. HSV is a highly contagious virus, and it’s not difficult to pass it to your partner through oral or sexual contact.
Remember, the virus is most contagious when you have active sores on your body. During this time, it’s best to refrain from sexual contact. If you do engage in sexual activity, use condoms or dental dams, though these will not guarantee safety since the virus sheds from skin cells outside the covered area.
Waiting to have sexual contact until your outbreak has completely healed is one of the best ways to protect your partner. However, you should still take precautions since the herpes virus can continue shedding even in the absence of symptoms.
Research shows that asymptomatic shedding is highest in the first three to 12 months of a genital herpes infection. Keep this in mind when you consider ways to protect your partner.
Sexual protection, however, is only the first line of defense against spreading the herpes virus. Here are some additional ways to protect your partner:
- Practice good hygiene by keeping the affected area clean and dry and washing your hands immediately after contact with any herpes sores.
- Avoid touching your sores and never pick at the scabs. Allow them to fall off naturally once the sores fully heal.
- Consider taking an antiviral medication, such as valacyclovir or acyclovir, to reduce outbreaks and viral shedding.
How to Stop Viral Shedding Naturally: Final Thoughts
Even if there’s no solution for how to stop viral shedding naturally just yet, there’s a myriad of ways to slow the shedding process.
A combination of two or more of the natural treatment options discussed above may be best for you. If you’d like help learning how to manage herpes outbreaks or how to protect your partner, schedule an appointment with your doctor.