How Do Dermatologists Treat Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. The good news is that sores often clear without treatment. Many people choose to treat herpes simplex because treatment can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreak.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling. An antiviral medicine that is oral or intravenous can shorten an outbreak of herpes.
Prescription antiviral medicines approved for the treatment of both types of herpes simplex include:
Taken daily, these medicines can lessen the severity and frequency of outbreaks. They also can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
What Is Genital Herpes Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. More than one in every six people between ages 14 and 49 living in the United States has genital herpes.
Most people infected with herpes dont even know it. They dont know because the infection often has no symptoms, very mild symptoms, or symptoms that mimic other health or skin problems. But the infection can cause small, painful sores to form on the genitals, thighs, or buttocks. If sores do arise, they typically go away within two to three weeks, but the virus stays in the body for life.
Lots and lots of people live normal, healthy lives with herpes, with some small degree of attention to protecting their partners during outbreaks, says I. Cori Baill, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and an associate professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida.
Genital herpes can be treated, but it cant be cured. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent giving it to other people.
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How Long After Herpes Outbreak Is It Still Contagious
For oral herpes, cold sores are usually contagious for up to 15 days and are generally no longer contagious once all symptoms have cleared, which includes the blister itself and any scabbing.
Someone carrying genital herpes should wait until 7 days after the sore heals to begin engaging in sexual activity, as the herpes virus can spread from sores not covered by a condom.
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What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Genital Herpes
As an academic medical center, Yale Medicine provides a wide range of treatment options for patients. Our doctors are expert at diagnosing and treating difficult cases and helping manage the condition for people at risk, such as pregnant women. Our doctors have access to the most advanced technology for diagnosing herpes and other medical conditions.Also, our researchers continue to look for new information about the herpes virus.
The Virus And Pathogenesis
HSV is a double-stranded DNA virus that may enter the host through abraded skin or intact mucous membranes.1 Epithelial cells are the initial targets. Once infected, these cells die, releasing clear fluid intradermally to form vesicles and merging with other cells to create multinucleated giant cells.
Retrograde transport through adjacent neural tissue to sensory ganglia leads to lifelong latent infection.1 Reactivation of the virus is triggered by local or systemic stimuli such as immunodeficiency, trauma, fever, menstruation, ultraviolet light and sexual intercourse.13 Although emotional stress is assumed to trigger HSV recurrence, recent research fails to show a definite causative role.4 Once reactivated, the virus is transported by the neuron back to the epithelium, where more replication occurs, and another outbreak ensues.
HSV exists as two separate types, labeled 1 and 2, which have affinities for different body sites.2 Ninety percent of infections caused by HSV-2 are genital, and 90 percent of those caused by HSV-1 are oral the reason for this division is unknown.5 In addition, oral HSV-1 infection recurs more frequently than oral HSV-2, and genital HSV-2 recurs more often than genital HSV-1.
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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
Talk With Your Doctor About Herpes Medications
Its important to first talk with your doctor before using over-the-counter products like docosanol or other home remedies.
If this is the first time you have symptoms of HSV with blisters or sores, your doctor will first diagnose if you have HSV, the type and discuss options to manage your condition. They will tell you about prescription and nonprescription alternatives to treat your HSV infection.
Tell your doctor if you have any serious health conditions including if you have a weakened immune system.
Your doctor will also tell you what you can expect with an HSV infection, how long it may last, and what do to prevent spreading HSV to others while you have an active infection.
Here are answers to a few commonly asked questions about herpes simplex virus.
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How Effective Are Medications For Herpes
Prescription antiviral medications have proven effectiveness in managing HSV symptoms.
A 2017 study comparing the antiviral medications acyclovir, famciclovir, penciclovir and valacyclovir to treat herpes simplex labialis found all antiviral medications were effective to shorten healing time for lesions and reducing pain. The comparison study found valacyclovir had the fastest healing time and pain reduction.
How To Treat Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,628,739 times.
Herpes is an outbreak of painful, itchy blisters caused by a viral infection. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreakâs duration. There are also steps you can take on your own to ease your discomfort. To reduce the risk of subsequent outbreaks, maintain a healthy diet, get 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly, and try to keep your stress levels in check.
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What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
How Likely Is It That I Now Have Genital Herpes Too
That depends on several things, including whether you and your partner always use a condom and how long youve been sexually intimate with each other.
If youve had sex only once or twice, and if you used a condom each time, the risk is lower than if youve had unprotected sex for a long time. But you could have been infected during any one encounter.
Even if youve never seen herpes sores on your partners genitals or your own, you still might have it. The symptoms of genital herpes are often subtle are easy to mistake for something else, like bug bites, pimples, razor burn, or hemorrhoids. Also, the virus can be contagious even when there are no symptoms.
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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine doesnt currently exist, as the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.
However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores, and outbreaks. Medication also lowers the risk of transmission to others. You can take most medications for herpes orally, though you may also apply some as a cream or receive them by injection.
Treatment Options + Pricing
If you experience outbreaks often, a daily dose of valacyclovir can prevent them and make it less likely that you’ll pass herpes to partners. If your outbreaks are less frequent you might choose to only take valacyclovir when you feel an outbreak coming on this will lessen the outbreak’s severity and help it heal faster. We bill insurance if you have it, and out-of-pocket prices are detailed below.
|$0 + applicable co-pays or deductible||$45 for a 3 month supply|
|Valacyclovir for Daily Prevention||$0 + applicable co-pays or deductible||$75 for a 3 month supply*|
*For a 90-day supply of daily valacyclovir the out-of-pocket price is 83 cents per pill.
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To Use Buccal Acyclovir Follow These Steps:
If the delayed-release buccal tablet comes off within the first 6 hours of application, reapply the same tablet. If it still will not stick, then apply a new tablet. If you accidentally swallow the tablet within the first 6 hours of application, drink a glass of water and place a new tablet on your gum. If the tablet falls off or is swallowed 6 or more hours after application, do not apply a new tablet until your next regular time.
When Treatments For Genital Herpes Are Given
- Initial treatment. If you have symptoms such as sores when you’re first diagnosed with genital herpes, your doctor will usually give you a brief course of antiviral therapy to relieve them or prevent them from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on the drugs longer if the sores don’t heal in that time.
After the first treatment, work with your doctor to come up with the best way to take antiviral therapies. There are two options:
- Intermittent treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for you to keep on hand in case you have another flare-up this is called intermittent therapy. You can take the pills for two to five days as soon as you notice sores or when you feel an outbreak coming on. Sores will heal and disappear on their own, but taking the drugs can make the symptoms less severe and make them go away faster.
- Suppressive treatment. If you have outbreaks often, you may want to consider taking an antiviral drug every day. Doctors call this suppressive therapy. For someone who has more than six outbreaks a year, suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by 70% to 80%. Many people who take the antiviral drugs daily have no outbreaks at all.
There is no set number of outbreaks per year that doctors use to decide when someone should start suppressive therapy. Rather, more important factors are how often the outbreaks happen and if they are severe enough to interfere with your life.
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Who Should Not Take Valacyclovir Tablets
Do not take valacyclovir tablets if you are allergic to any of its ingredients or to acyclovir. The active ingredient is valacyclovir.Before taking valacyclovir tablets, tell your healthcare provider: About all your medical conditions, including:
Certain people should not take valacyclovir and others should use decreased doses of valacyclovir. Below are some important examples.
Sensitivity or Allergies: Patients with sensitivity or an allergy to any of the following medications should not use Valacyclovir: Acyclovir, Famciclovir, ganciclovir, penciclovir, valacyclovir, or valganciclovir.
Kidney Issues: Dose adjustments should be made for those with kidney impairment or issues. Decreased doses are needed as kidney impairment slows the clearing from the body of valacyclovir. The degree of impairment determines the decrease in the dosage. The PDR states, Acute renal failure and CNS toxicity have been reported in patients with underlying renal dysfunction who have received inappropriately high doses of valacyclovir for their level of renal function. Patients receiving potentially nephrotoxic drugs together with valacyclovir may have an increased risk of renal dysfunction .
Dehydration: When patients are dehydrated acyclovir can reform as a solid in the kidney leading to kidney damage. Patients should all remain well hydrated when taking valacyclovir.
See here for other special groups, warnings, and precautions
What Happens If Herpes Is Left Untreated
Without treatment, sores and outbreaks usually heal on their own. Oral herpes is usually considered a mild infection, but complications may appear in people with weakened immune systems.
The risk of complications with genital herpes is also low, though these include inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Passing HSV-2 to a newborn can be dangerous, however. Doctors may recommend a Cesarean delivery to pregnant people with genital herpes, according to the .
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Eye Herpes Vs Conjunctivitis
You may mistake eye herpes for conjunctivitis, which is known more commonly as pink eye. Both conditions may be caused by a virus, though conjunctivitis can also be caused by:
A doctor can make the correct diagnosis using a culture sample. If you have eye herpes, the culture will test positive for type 1 HSV . Receiving a correct diagnosis can help you to receive proper treatment.
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Men
In about two-thirds of cases, men will have no symptoms of herpes. Symptoms of herpes in men may include:
It is unclear if genital herpes affects fertility in men because it affects such a large part of the population. However, a recent study found that herpes may lower the sperm count in men and may have an effect on mens ability to get pregnant with a partner.
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Genital Herpes During Pregnancy
Prevention of neonatal herpes depends both on preventing acquisition of genital herpes during late pregnancy and avoiding exposure of the neonate to herpetic lesions and viral shedding during delivery. Mothers of newborns who acquire neonatal herpes often lack histories of clinically evident genital herpes . The risk for transmission to the neonate from an infected mother is high among women who acquire genital herpes near the time of delivery and low among women with prenatal histories of recurrent herpes or who acquire genital herpes during the first half of pregnancy . Women who acquire HSV in the second half of pregnancy should be managed in consultation with maternal-fetal medicine and infectious disease specialists.
All pregnant women should be asked whether they have a history of genital herpes or genital symptoms concerning for HSV infection. At the onset of labor, all women should be questioned thoroughly about symptoms of genital herpes, including prodromal symptoms , and all women should be examined thoroughly for herpetic lesions. Women without symptoms or signs of genital herpes or its prodrome can deliver vaginally. Although cesarean delivery does not eliminate the risk for HSV transmission to the neonate , women with recurrent genital herpetic lesions at the onset of labor should have a cesarean delivery to reduce the risk for neonatal HSV infection.
Acyclovir 400 mg orally 3 times/dayORValacyclovir 500 mg orally 2 times/day
How Do You Treat Herpes
Theres no cure for herpes, but prescription medications can ease symptoms, end outbreaks sooner, and lower the chances of passing the virus to other people.
You can also help ease the pain caused by herpes outbreaks by taking a warm bath, wearing loose clothing and putting an ice pack on the sores.
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Recovering From Eye Herpes
If youre treating your eye herpes with eye drops, you may need to put them in as often as every 2 hours, depending on the medication your doctor prescribes. Youll need to keep applying the drops for up to 2 weeks.
With oral acyclovir, youll take the pills five times per day.
You should see improvement in 2 to 5 days. The symptoms should be gone within 2 to 3 weeks.
After a first bout of eye herpes, about 20 percent of people will have an additional outbreak in the following year. After multiple recurrences, your doctor may recommend taking antiviral medication daily.
This is because multiple outbreaks damage your cornea. Complications include:
- numbing of the corneal surface
- perforation of the cornea
If the cornea is damaged enough to cause significant vision loss, you may need a corneal transplant .