The herpes simplex virus causes sores in and outside of the mouth, in the genital areas, as well as other parts of the body. A sign of eruption is a tingling sensation followed by blisters that eventually crust over and disappear. The virus lives in nerve cells, protected from immune-system defenses, and remains dormant most of the time for life. The virus is contracted by skin to skin contact. Triggers that can cause an outbreak are fatigue, viral infections, sunlight, menstruation, and stress. In some people, foods high in the amino acid arginine can bring about an eruption; the highest amounts are found in chocolate, nuts, and gelatin. To test for sensitivity to arginine, eat a handful of nuts or chocolate and see if there is a reaction overnight.
Shingles or herpes zoster, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox, is characterized by a painful rash usually on one side of the body. Nerve pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, may persist after the rash has disappeared and can be helped by 1200 to 1600 IU vitamin E orally and 30 IU applied topically; and by intramuscular injections of Vitamin B12. Intramuscular injections of 100 mg three times weekly of adenosine monophosphate, a naturally occurring compound in the body, can accelerate healing of shingles, reduce pain, and may prevent postherpetic neuralgia. Capsaicin containing cream from red pepper applied topically can help relieve pain.
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