Herpes simplex virus can cause infections that affect the mouth, face, genitals, skin, buttocks and the anal area. Herpes simplex lesions are also known as cold sores. After an initial infection, the herpes virus lies dormant in nerve ganglia and is usually reactivated because of infections, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, stress, trauma to the skin, or changes in the immune system. Common symptoms include the appearance of a group of blisters on a red base, accompanied by itching and pain, and occasionally fever and swollen lymph glands. The blisters usually collapse to form ulcers, which heal in 7 to 10 days.
The Ayurvedic treatment of herpes simplex is aimed at treating the local symptoms and preventing recurrence. A local application is made of medicated oils and ointments containing medicines such as Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Chandan (Santalum album), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra) and Mandukparni (Centella asiatica). Jatyadi oil, Shatadhout-Ghrut, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut and Yashtimadhuk-Ghrut are also used for this purpose.
Medicines like Kaishor-Guggulu, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Sinhanaad-Guggulu, Ekang-Veer-Ras, Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Yashtimadhuk, Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Sutshekhar-Ras, Praval-Bhasma, Chandrakala-Ras, Chandan and Usheer (Vetiveria zizanioidis) are used internally for about 2 to 3 weeks, till there is a complete resolution of the blisters and ulcers. If there are more than 2 recurrences of herpes simplex within 6 months, additional medicines are used to boost the immune status of the body. Medicines used for this purpose are: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Abhrak-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant and Suvarna-Bhasma.
In order to avoid recurrence of herpes simplex infections, it is important to avoid known precipitating factors such as sunburn and stress. It should be remembered that these lesions are contagious, and affected persons can transmit the virus to others, especially when they have active blister-like sores, with the commonest medium of transmission being the saliva. Affected persons should therefore avoid or minimize physical contact with others till their lesions have healed completely.