As devastating as it can be for an adult to find out they are living with herpes, it can be exponentially more difficult for a teenager. Being a teenager can be a difficult enough time as it is, but to find out that you're living with herpes while dealing with all the hormones that kick in during your teenage years can seem like the end of the world. Here are five tips for helping teenagers to deal with herpes.
#1 Encourage them to seek counseling. They can't simply deal with this on their own. They're already going through a lot of emotions as a teenager. With professional counseling they can learn how to deal with those emotions, and avoid letting them overwhelm them. The first place to start maybe simply to go to see a guidance counselor at school, and if they feel that the teenager needs even greater professional guidance they can point them in the right direction. The biggest step is convincing them to seek professional help in the first place.
#2 if you find out that a teenager is dealing with herpes you should convince them to seek medical help right away. This is a very manageable disease. It's not life-threatening, but it can be quite uncomfortable when you're experiencing an outbreak. A doctor can walk the teenager through the steps of how to deal with an outbreak, and provide them with any medication that might help to treat the symptoms. They can also comfort the teenager by letting them know it's not the end of the world. Doctors deal with people that have STDs all the time and they know the right things to say. There is no known cure for herpes, but it can definitely be managed. This is the message the teenager will get from the doctor.
#3 As much as seeking professional help and medical help are important, it's also important for teenagers to have the support of their peers. Through the help of guidance counselors teenagers can get in contact with support groups of their own peers or sites for teenagers only that can help them. By sharing their stories with others, and being there to help others, they will feel better about the situation they're dealing with. They don't have to deal with this alone and this is the message that they need to understand.
#4 As hard as it is to tell a sexual partner that you're living with herpes, it's something you have to do. They deserve to know, and they deserve to make their own choice on whether they wish to continue a relationship with you. As you know, everything is amplified for teenagers. This has a lot to do with hormones and experiencing things for the first time in life. So for them, it's even harder to admit to someone they're involved with that they're living with herpes. If there's one thing you have an obligation to do as an adults when dealing with a teenager that's living with herpes, it's convincing them that they need to notify anyone that they've had sexual contact with that they are now living with herpes. No it won't be easy, but it's the right thing to do.
#5 You should also encourage teenagers to educate themselves through reading. There's a lot of great information available in the library and online that explain how to live with an STD like herpes. By educating themselves the teenager will answer a lot of the questions that they have. They'll be armed with the knowledge that they can live with herpes and actually live a healthy and happy life.
If you're going to help a teenager deal with herpes you have to understand the unique set of issues a teenager deals with in such a circumstance. They're already going through many changes in life as their hormones kick in, and this is one more challenge that they probably didn't need. With proper counseling, medical advice, and the help of a support group, they can learn to deal with herpes. As an adult it's your responsibility to give them the information they need to make the right choices.