I have HSV-2, which supposedly consists of more frequent breakouts than if I had HSV-1. My first few years living with genital herpes I had fairly frequent outbreaks. After about two or three years however, my outbreaks dropped to roughly 1-3 times a year. Considering I hardly experience outbreaks these days I almost forgot what they felt like until I had one last week that just plain sucked.

It started at work. I was sitting at my desk and felt a tingling sensation, that was mildly uncomfortable, on my genitals. Now I can’t speak for all women, but I figured maybe I had simply been sitting in one position for too long and needed to get up and walk around. A herpes outbreak was the last thing on my mind. Later that evening, my skin in that same area was itchy. Nothing too intense, but noticeable enough that it was aggravating. At that point I knew what was happening.

A day or two later, I was experiencing a full blown outbreak (yay). I chalk this up to too much stress in my life currently, and taking too little care of myself through my breakup. Emotional states, stress, poor diet, these all greatly contribute to the frequency of your outbreaks, trust me. Every time I’m upset in an abnormally intense way, an outbreak is usually soon to follow.

I’m not sure what outbreaks feel like for other people, but when it’s at it’s peak, mine are pretty damn uncomfortable. I always try to be firm that no one should reject each other, or think differently of each other simply over herpes. But I want to also make it clear that that doesn’t mean genital herpes outbreaks don’t suck. They suck. My body feels achy, I feel fatigued. Depending on where the outbreak is located, walking can be extremely uncomfortable because it irritates the sore. It’s a general discomfort that I hate going through yet when it’s over I feel like it was nothing.

I don’t take any medication for herpes and typically wait out my outbreaks without doing anything to interfere. This one came with a vengeance though, so I started looking up things I could do to help my body through the cycle of this. I heard that soaking in baths full of Epsom salt can speed up the healing process a bit and alleviate some of the symptoms. So I basically poured two tons of Epsom salt into my bath (kind of joking), and soaked in that tub for a good 30 minutes every night for three days. I would love to hear other people’s experiences trying this, but to my disappointment, I did not notice any difference in my symptoms.

I also heard tea tree oil can help take away the burning or itching sensations outbreaks cause. I put tea tree oil on a cotton ball and dabbed it on my sores and the areas of my skin that were irritated, and also was disappointed at the results. It didn’t really burn or itch as much, but it also kind of felt like drowning my genitals in Listerine. Now I felt like I had this minty odor wafting from my skin and my skin also felt very minty cool, but I didn’t necessarily feel any major difference.

I know there’s tons of other remedies people try/have heard of/help, but I haven’t found any quick fixes yet. If anyone has any input on what I did wrong, or on how these two options actually helped them, feel free to share your insight! I’d love some other options for when my next outbreak sneaks up on me.