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.
Treatment Options For Genital Herpes
Head into your doctors office, use an online pharmacy, or check your medicine cabinet for these effective genital herpes antiviral medications.
Acyclovir is an antiviral medication that treats infections caused by the herpes simplex virus, including genital herpes. You might recognize Acyclovir by its brand names like Zovirax, Cymex Ultra, and Virasorb.
Its best to start taking Acyclovir as soon as you notice the first signs of an emerging outbreak. This medication stops the herpes virus from growing and spreading during an outbreak, although it cannot remove the virus from your body completely. Most people experience relief within just a few days of taking Acyclovir for genital herpes.
Valacyclovir, also known as Valtrex, is Food and Drug Administration approved to treat genital herpes. This antiviral drug interferes with the DNA replication of the herpes virus for an even longer duration of time than acyclovir. As a result, you can take Valacyclovir less frequently and still enjoy consistent results.
NSAIDS For Pain Relief
Genital herpes outbreaks can cause days or even weeks of discomfort. Fortunately, you probably already have pain relief options sitting in your medicine cabinet. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are all formulated to reduce the inflammation that causes so much pain during outbreaks.
How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
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What Treatment Is Available For Genital Herpes
Though genital herpes is not curable, it can be managed. Your physician may prescribe an antiviral medication, including acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, to use during an outbreak. Over-the-counter pain medication can also be used to soothe symptoms. Your physician can provide advice on how to prevent transmission of the virus to sexual partners along with suggestions about how to discuss the topic of genital herpes openly.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex
During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.
When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.
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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.
Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
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Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
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What Is The Herpes Virus
Herpes is a virus that causes skin sores. The medical term for it is the Herpes Simplex Virus . It most commonly produces sores on the mouth or genitals.
Herpes is very common and doesnt usually cause severe health problems. However, it is very contagious and there is no cure.
When To Talk With A Doctor
Herpes isnt curable, but it can be treated with antiviral medications. These medications can reduce the severity of an outbreak.
If you suspect you have herpes, make an appointment with a doctor. Its also a good idea to talk with your doctor about a herpes screening if:
- your current or previous sexual partner has herpes
- youre planning to have sex with a new partner
- you had a risky sexual encounter
If youve already been diagnosed with herpes and youre currently experiencing an outbreak, the outbreak might go away without causing complications and without treatment.
However, its wise to make an appointment with your doctor if:
- the outbreak is particularly painful or unbearable
- youre experiencing symptoms of other STIs
- youre experiencing frequent, severe outbreaks
If youre sexually active, its a good idea to have regular STI screenings. You can book appointments for STI screenings with your doctors office. You could also try a local clinic, certain pharmacies, or Planned Parenthood.
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How To Protect Yourself From Herpes
Aside from not having sex, there is no 100% effective way to prevent herpes. You can reduce the risk of contracting the infection by using a condom, but even a condom is not foolproof, as the virus can be transmitted even if your partner has no visible sores.
That said, if you or your partner has herpes, taking antiviral medications can significantly reduce the chances of transmission.
If you exhibit any of the symptoms of genital herpes, such as cracked, red sores around your genitals or rectum, ask your doctor for a blood test to detect HSV antibodies. Even if you test negative, regular STI screening is important for anyone who is sexually active, and free and low-cost testing resources can be found on the CDC’s website.
What’s Involved In Herpes Testing
If there are blisters or sores, a healthcare provider may gently swab the area to take a fluid sample and test it. If there are no sores, but you are concerned you may have been exposed, a blood test may done. Herpes tests are not normally recommended unless you have symptoms.
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A Workhorse Of Gene Therapy
The researchers also refined their methods of transporting the molecular scissors to targeted nerve cells. From the beginning, Jerome and his team have relied on a harmless, hollowed-out virus that is drawn to the surface proteins of nerve cells. Called an adeno-associated virus vector, or AAV, it is the little workhorse of gene therapy. In this case, it is used to ferry to the infected nerve cells genetic instructions that cause them to make those meganucleases.
âWe inject the AAV vector, and it finds its way,â Aubert said.
Latent herpes viruses lurk in clusters of nerve cells called ganglia, and researchers have found that some ganglia are harder to reach than others. Over the years, they discovered that some AAV strains are better suited than others to find specific types of nerve clusters, and this has helped them fine-tune the selection of these delivery viruses to match infected cells in different places.
In their mouse experiments, the team continued to improve their results, nudging them up to a 95% reduction in herpesvirus infection in one prominent nerve cluster using a selection of two different meganucleases carried by three different flavors of AAVs. By selecting vectors that are primed for harder-to-reach nerve clusters, the group expects to continue improving their ability to eradicate the virus.
Stoddard is also tweaking the meganucleasesâ structures to make them a better fit against HSV-2.
Aubert said that comes naturally to her.
Can You Sleep With Someone With Herpes And Not Get It
Yes. Herpes can be passed on even if a partner has no sores or other signs and symptoms of an outbreak. And if a partner has a herpes outbreak, it’s even more likely to be spread. Even when a person doesn’t have visible sores, the only surefire way to protect against getting genital herpes is abstinence.
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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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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Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
New Drug May Be A Cure For Both Covid
ATLANTA, Ga. Scientists have developed a drug that could be an antiviral cure for both sexually transmitted infections and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In animal experiments, researchers discovered that a medication that mimics immune system proteins successfully treats herpes. The small synthetic molecule may also defeat the coronavirus and many other kinds of infections. The stable peptoid is harder to break down that the real thing.
The team suggests that doctors could give such a treatment to airline passengers before a flight to protect them from COVID. Scientists expect clinical trials to begin within months. Vaccines alone wont overcome the pandemic, making anti-viral therapies just as vital.
In the body, antimicrobial peptides such as LL-37 help keep viruses, bacteria, fungi, cancer cells and even parasites under control, says principal investigator Dr. Annelise Barron of Stanford University in a media release.
These substances are not usually ideal drug candidates as they are quickly cleared by enzymes in the body. With that in mind, study authors emulated the key biophysical attributes of LL-37.
Peptoids are easy to make, Barron says. And unlike peptides, theyre not rapidly degraded by enzymes, so they could be used at a much lower dose.
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The Herpes Virus Is Extremely Complicated
According to Dr. Anna Wald, the head of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, herpes is just one of many sexually transmitted viruses that scientists don’t fully understand.
“We dont have a cure for a lot of things,” she says, citing HIV and hepatitis as other examples.
Most viruses attack our cells and attempt to multiply as soon as they enter our bodies. In response, our immune system releases white blood cells and antibodies to neutralize the virus and make it less harmful. Often, our immune systems can clear viruses out of our bodies, meaning we’re no longer infected.
But herpes is more complicated than that, says Wald. Herpes “has figured out how to live in the host despite the immune response,” she explains.
Unlike other viruses, herpes hides in the central nervous system, and our immune system can’t easily access this area of our bodies, Wald says. To make things even more complicated, the virus can lie dormant in our central nervous systems for an extended period of time .
As for therapeutic vaccines, they would have to be significantly better than current antiviral medications are at reducing the likelihood of transmission and outbreaks, says Dr. Hunter Hansfield, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Washington Center for AIDS and STDs. Fortunately, current antiviral medications can already reduce the recurrence of outbreaks by about 70 percent, according to American Family Physician.
Next Steps For An Experimental Herpes Cure
Wilder: When do you anticipate moving to human trials?
Jerome: We want to do that as quickly as we possibly can, but first there are a few things we need to work out. We, first of all, want to generate similar data for herpes simplex virus 2 in a model system. Thats being lined up and happening now.
We are spending a lot of effort on ensuring safety and conducting studies looking at potential side effects. Getting to a human clinical trial is probably going to take at least the next three years, because the last thing we want to do is hurt someone.
Wilder: Reading your paper, I couldnt help wondering about other herpesviruses. Viruses like herpesviruses 4 and herpesvirus 6 can cause a great deal of complications for people. Could the meganucleases approach be effective for those other viruses?
Jerome: Sure, absolutely. Weve thought a lot about this.One point I want to make is that the research is very much focused on herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 right now. Our paper studied herpes simplex virus 1 because of the experimental model we used.
Herpes simplex virus 2 behaves almost identically. We do have to tweak the meganucleases a bit, and weve done that so that they recognize herpes simplex virus 2. We are working actively on right now.
Some of the most exciting work were doing must move beyond the herpesviruses. Weve thought some about HIV, although that tends to be a very difficult target in terms of getting the scissors to the right cells.
Terri Wilder, M.S.W.
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Herpes Vaccines And Hiv
People with HSV-2 infection are at least three times more likely to become infected with HIV if exposed. Thus, interventions targeting HSV-2, such as new HSV vaccines, have the potential for additional benefit against HIV, which could be particularly powerful in regions with a high incidence of co-infection.
Content sources: The WHO, US CDC, WHO, NIH, research papers, ClinicalTrials.gov, and the Precision Vaccinations news network. Content is fact-checked by healthcare providers, such as Dr. Robert Carlson.
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.
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