Why Is This Medication Prescribed
Acyclovir cream is used to treat cold sores on the face or lips. Acyclovir ointment is used to treat first outbreaks of genital herpes and to treat certain types of sores caused by the herpes simplex virus in people with weak immune systems. Acyclovir is in a class of antiviral medications called synthetic nucleoside analogues. It works by stopping the spread of the herpes virus in the body. Acyclovir does not cure cold sores or genital herpes, does not prevent outbreaks of these conditions, and does not stop the spread of these conditions to other people.
When Is Preventive Treatment Considered
Some people have outbreaks of genital herpes very often or experience especially severe symptoms. Then it may be a good idea to take antiviral medication for a longer time including during symptom-free phases. The goal is to prevent further outbreaks and to keep the symptoms from becoming so severe. Also, the antiviral medication reduces the likelihood of infecting others. As preventive treatment, the WHO recommends the following:
- aciclovir: 400 mg two times per day,
- famciclovir: 250 mg two times per day or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg once per day.
Research shows that preventive treatment can considerably lower the risk of further outbreaks. The people participating had four or more herpes outbreaks per year before the start of the studies, and then took an antiviral medication or a fake treatment for up to one year. A comprehensive analysis of the study results shows that
- 96 out of 100 people who took a placebo had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
- 46 out of 100 people who were given antiviral medication had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
In other words, the medication prevented further outbreaks in 50 out of 100 people within one year.
People with very frequent herpes outbreaks also benefited from preventive treatment: In one study involving people with very frequent outbreaks, the medication lowered the number of episodes in one year from 11 to 2.
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
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Are There Side Effects From Treating Genital Herpes With Antiviral Drugs
Antiviral drugs are very well-tolerated by most people because they target the virus, not healthy cells. Side effects are rare. Specialist guidelines state that regular kidney function tests for people taking aciclovir long-term are no longer required. The drug has now been used for without problem for over thirty years treating genital herpes. It can be used in pregnancy, indeed it is even recommended that women take it from week 36. See our pregnancy page.
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
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Why Trust Verywell Health
As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nied understands how vital quality product recommendations are for treating symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, she has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.
Additional reporting to this story by Simone Scully
Simone Scully is a New York-based writer and editor with years of experience writing about health, wellness, science, and lifestyle. Her byline has appeared at Healthline, Well+Good, Narratively, Romper, Motherifigures magazine, Nautilus, Narratively, AskMen, among other places.
Does Herpes Need To Be Treated
Treating herpes simplex symptoms may not be necessary. Herpes simplex infections clear up even if no treatment is given. But treating genital herpes can be helpful particularly if there are severe symptoms. Some people are affected more than others. See below for the rare occasions when it can be serious.
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Hair Bumps On Genital Area
Genital lumps can be worrying, but whilst some are harmless, others are certainly a cause for concern. Dr Aka, Consultant Gynaecologist here at The Gynae Centre explains: It is quite normal to notice the sebaceous glands on the skin of the genitals. These secrete sebum into the hair follicles to lubricate the skin and hair and are not cause for concern.
What Cream Can You Put On Herpes Sores
Acyclovir cream is used to treat cold sores on the face or lips.
What can I put on genital herpes sores open?
- Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to relieve pain.
- Apply cool compresses to sores several times a day to relieve pain and itching.
- Women with sores on the vaginal lips can try urinating in a tub of water to avoid pain.
Can you put Sudocrem on blisters?
Healing cuts and burns Sudocrem acts as a protective barrier around the skin and prevents infection in the wound by blocking out bacteria, so its perfect for treating minor cuts, scrapes and burns.
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Causes Of Genital Herpes
There are two types of HSV:
Genital herpes is caused by both type 1 and type 2 HSV.
In some cases it is also possible to become infected by coming into contact with other parts of the body that can be affected by HSV, such as the eyes and skin. For example, you can catch genital herpes if you have oral sex with someone who has a cold sore. A cold sore is a blister-like lesion around the mouth that is also caused by HSV.
Genital herpes cannot usually be passed on through objects, such as towels, cutlery or cups because the virus dies very quickly when away from your skin. However, you may become infected by sharing sex toys with someone who has the virus.
Genital herpes is particularly easy to catch when an infected person has blisters or sores. However, it can be caught at any time, even when someone has no symptoms at all.
Once you have been infected with HSV, it can be reactivated every so often to cause a new episode of genital herpes. This is known as recurrence.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Some people use natural therapies to treat herpes, either on their own or to support standard medical care. The research supporting their use is generally weak, with little evidence that they can reduce either the severity or duration of an outbreak. Even so, many people swear by their effectiveness and consider them a vital part of managing herpes outbreaks.
Complementary and alternative therapies sometimes used to treat herpes include:
- Propolis: This is a sticky substance produced by bees that may help speed the healing of genital herpes. A 2017 study found that people who used propolis ointment experienced better healing by the 10th day of treatment compared to those who used a sham ointment.
- Algae extract: Lab studies suggest that algae extract can inhibit the growth of HSV-2 in test tubes. Whether it can do so in humans has yet to be proven.
- Acupuncture: A 2011 study concluded that acupuncture was mildly effective in reducing pain caused by the herpes zoster virus , the type of herpes virus that causes shingles. While this suggests that acupuncture may be useful in easing genital herpes pain, this has yet to be proven.
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How To Apply Aciclovir Cream
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about using aciclovir cream and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using it.
- Apply the cream five times a day. The best way to do this is to use it every four hours during the day . Dab the cream on to the area rather than rubbing it in. This will minimise any damage to the blisters, which could cause pain and spread the virus around.
- Start using the cream at the first sign of infection and continue to use it for five days. This is often sufficient time for the sore to heal but you can continue to use the cream for a further five days if needed. Remember to wash and dry your hands before and after using aciclovir, to prevent spreading any infection.
- If you forget to use the cream, apply it as soon as you remember and then continue using it again at your usual times.
What Is Acyclovir Topical
Acyclovir topical cream is used to treat cold sores on the lips and face.
Acyclovir topical ointment is used to treat genital herpes lesions.
There is no cure for herpes and acyclovir will not prevent you from developing symptoms in the future.
Acyclovir topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
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How Effective Are Topical Herpes Treatments
Two new topical medications for oral herpes may hold more promise, but they come at a cost.
includes acyclovir 5% cream and 1% hydrocortisone and works better than either ingredient alone. Interestingly, Xerese cream has been shown not only to shorten healing time but also to make it less likely that the lesions will return. Unfortunately, Xerese is expensive and rarely covered by insurance. But it is a combination of 2 cheaper generic creams, so talk to your doctor about making your own combination.
is a different form of acyclovir that can also be used to treat an oral herpes outbreak. It is an adhesive tablet that you place on your gums. Sitavig delivers a high concentration of acyclovir directly to your lip, the site of the cold sore. But again, itll cost you.
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Use An Antiviral Medication
Topical over-the-counter meds dont work as well as prescription antivirals as cold sore treatments, says Bruce Robinson, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in New York City and clinical instructor of dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital. Over-the-counter creams may provide relief from the tingling and burning, but they arent the best option if you want sores gone fast.
The best way to treat cold sores is to start treatment earlyin that prodromal stagewith a prescription oral antiviral medication like valacyclovir , says Lorraine Young, M.D., co-chief of dermatology clinical services at UCLA.
A common regimen is to take 2,000 milligrams in the morning and again later on in the day. This âdecreases the virus from replicating, so then it will help it to heal faster, says Dr. Young. It may even prevent the cold sore from erupting in the first place.
Theres even a newish way to get this medicine theres a form of acyclovir that you can put between your lip and gum on the side the cold sore is erupting on. It sits there and dissolves slowly throughout the day, offering your body a steady stream of the medicine to tame the virus.
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What Should I Avoid While Using Triple Antibiotic
Do not take by mouth. Triple Antibiotic is for use only on your skin. Avoid getting this medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If this does happen, rinse with water.
Avoid applying other creams, lotions, ointments, or other medicated skin products to the same areas you treat with Triple Antibiotic.
How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
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What Are Recurrences Of Herpes And How Likely Are They
Recurrences are repeat symptoms which appear at or close to the place where the infection was first noticed. These are often fairly minor and may be no more than a small spot that heals in a few days. They may be accompanied by sensations itches or nerve twinges. They are unlikely to be as severe as first symptoms and may be almost unnoticed.
What Are The Alternative Treatment Options For Oral/genital Herpes
Theres an over-the-counter medication known as docosanol thats FDA-approved for the treatment of cold sores on your lips and nose. One study showed that it shortened the duration of outbreaks from five days down to about four days and even was a little more effective than a placebo at preventing outbreaks in people who applied it at the first symptoms of a cold sore coming on .
There are some reports that light therapy can help reduce herpes outbreaks. But so far, only a few small studies have been done to evaluate the effectiveness of these treatments. While the only adverse effects reported were pain or a burning sensation at the site treated, there werent enough people evaluated to be able to say for sure that the treatment worked .
There have been claims that all kinds of herbal products, including everything from echinacea and zinc, to the bee-derived product propolis and aloe can reduce your chances of having a herpes outbreak or reduce the duration or severity of an outbreak once you get one. Unfortunately, the research into these alternative options doesnt suggest that they work .
Luckily there are some things you can do, though, that might reduce your chances of having an outbreak.
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Can I Get A Ointment For Genital Herpes For A Reasonable Price
A ointment for genital herpes is supposed to be a lifelong companion. You will enjoy faster opening times, better quality, and a better view by paying more for your product. Likewise, a new ointment for genital herpes costs between $$$ and $$$. You miss out on some luxury features, but its still a great deal.
What Ointment Is Good For Genital Herpes
Wash your hands before and after using the cream.
Put a thin layer of cream on the affected area 5 times a day. Do this every 4 hours for example, at 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm.
Use the cream for at least 5 days. If the genital herpes sore has not healed by then, you can carry on using the cream for another 5 days.
If the affected area has still not healed after a total of 10 days, stop using the cream and tell your doctor.
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What Should I Discuss With My Healthcare Provider Before Using Acyclovir Topical
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to acyclovir or valacyclovir .
Acyclovir topical is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had a weak immune system .
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. However, herpes virus can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during your pregnancy, so that you do not have a genitallesion when your baby is born.
You should not breastfeed if you have a herpes lesion on or near your breast.
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Some Side Effects Can Be Serious If You Experience Any Of These Symptoms Call Your Doctor Immediately:
- swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
Topical acyclovir may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone .
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Can I Still Have Sexual Intercourse As A Carrier Of Herpes
If you have a cold sore, you should talk with your sexual partner and tell him or her about this and the risks involved. Using condoms can help reduce this risk, but it does not completely eliminate the risk. The presence of ulcers or other symptoms of herpes can increase the risk of spreading the disease. Even if you have no symptoms, you can still infect your sexual partners.
You may have doubts about how this will affect their overall health, sex life, and relationships. Its best for you to talk to your doctor about this, but its also important to realize that although herpes cannot be cured, the course of the disease can be controlled with medication. Daily suppressive therapy for herpes can also reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partner. Be sure to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Since a diagnosis of genital herpes can affect your attitude to current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk with sexual partners about STDs.