Types Of Antiviral Drugs
There are three oral antivirals recommended for the treatment of oral or genital herpes:
|Famvir, 250 mg||Twice daily|
Preventing genital herpes recurrence is important as it reduces the risk of HIV. According to the CDC, having an active genital herpes infection increases the risk of HIV by 200% to 300%.
Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
Home Remedies For Genital Herpes
In addition to medication treatment, there are many natural remedies that effectively soothe herpes sores quickly. An infected individual may be able to reduce inflammation, irritation and other symptoms by implementing a mix of the following solutions.
- Hot compressThe application of a warm compress may be helpful as soon as a sore is detected. In the event of a fully-formed sore, heat may help to minimise pain and reduce itching.
- Cold compressEffective in reducing swelling, an ice pack or clean, soft washcloth filled with ice applied to the affected area can relieve discomfort, although ice should never be directly applied to herpes blisters, bumps or ulcers.
- Vaseline or petroleum jellyAlthough Vaseline can ease the pain associated with crusting sores, it should be noted that herpes thrives in moist areas, and so applications should be sporadic and only in cases of extreme sensitivity. If possible, it is recommended to let the sores dry out on their own.
- SudocreamAn antiseptic healing lotion, Sudocream helps to heal sores by forming a protective layer over the vulnerable area. Sudocream helps reduce the risk of infection and contains a mild local anaesthetic to soothe discomfort.
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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
What Is Life Like For Someone Who Has Genital Herpes
The virus that causes genital herpes stays inside your body forever. While many people carry this virus, some dont know that they have it because they never have an outbreak.
If you have an outbreak, taking an antiviral medicine can shorten the outbreak and relieve symptoms. Some people have several outbreaks. For most people, the outbreaks become less severe and occur less often with time.
Anyone who has been infected with the virus, however, can spread the virus to others during sex. Even if you never have an outbreak, you can still spread the virus.
Related AAD resources
Centers for Disease Control. Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet . Last accessed December 19, 2016.
Fatahzadeh M and Schwartz RA. Human herpes simplex virus infections: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management. J Am Acad Dermatol 2007 57:737-63.
Madkan V Sra K, et al. Human herpesviruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1075-6.
Marques AR, Straus SE, Herpes simplex. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1199-1204.
US Preventive Task Force. Serologic screening for genital herpes infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016 316:2525-30.
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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.
Is There A Way To Prevent Getting Herpes
You can protect yourself and your partner by taking steps to prevent an outbreak of herpes. Some things that you can do include:
-If you already have herpes, dont have sex until the outbreak is completely gone, even with a condom.
-Try to learn the signs of an impending outbreak, such as itching, tingling and burning, and stop having sex as soon as you notice.
-If you wear contact lenses, dont wet your lenses with your saliva. This could spread your herpes infection to your eyes.
-Dont have sex with your partner until your herpes sores are completely healed.
-Always tell your partner if you are infected with the herpes virus before you have sex. Even though it can be embarrassing and difficult, herpes is very common, and telling your partner will help keep the infection from spreading.
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If It Doesnt Cure You What Does Herpes Medication Do
If herpes medication doesnt cure you, what does it do? antivirals are important in helping you to manage your herpes outbreaks. Although they dont cure herpes, they can reduce the time that an outbreak lasts for, and make it less severe. Antivirals work to stop the virus from multiplying by blocking the enzyme that it uses to copy itself and spread to other cells.
What does herpes medication involve? antivirals can be used to treat an acute herpes infection and also as a suppression treatment to prevent future outbreaks. They are taken as tablets swallowed with water.
Can medication stop you from developing symptoms? yes. If you suffer six or more outbreaks a year, then you may wish to consider suppression therapy to prevent future herpes outbreaks. There are also some possible triggers, which you can avoid to help control your herpes.
Can You Cure Herpes
Last reviewed: 21 May 2022
What to expect from herpes treatment
You can’t ‘cure’ a herpes infection, but treatment is still important
Just because you can’t ‘cure’ herpes, doesn’t mean you’ll always have symptoms
Medication can help you manage your herpes symptoms better
There is still ongoing research being done on how to cure herpes permanently
Although the infection is permanent, there are lots of way to manage herpes long-term
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How To Heal Herpes Sores Faster And Live A Normal Life
You can lead a rich, normal life while living with the herpes simplex virus. Whilst it is quite difficult to get rid of sores quickly, the prevalence of medications, treatments and remedies available today, ensure flare-ups and outbreak effects are reduced. Remember to manage stress levels, maintain a healthy diet, and exercise, in order to slow the progression of herpes. You should always inform sexual partners to help avoid complications further into a relationship.
Living with HSV-1 or HSV-2 should have little bearing on your ability to lead a healthy, productive and enriching existence, thanks to the various treatment options on the market today.
Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
It is safest to:
- always use condoms and dental dams, even when there are no sores or blisters present
- avoid sex when there are sores or blisters present you are most infectious at this time
- avoid sex with someone who has any blisters, sores or other symptoms of genital herpes
- avoid oral sex when there is any sign of a cold sore
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Recurrence Course Triggers And Timing
Course of Recurrence
Most cases of herpes simplex recur. The site on the body and the type of virus influence how often it comes back. Recurrences of genital herpes are more likely with HSV-2 infection than with HSV-1 infection.
The virus usually takes the following course:
- Prodrome. The outbreak of infection is often preceded by a prodrome, an early group of symptoms that may include itchy skin, pain, or an abnormal tingling sensation at the site of infection. Headache, enlarged lymph glands, and flu-like symptoms may occur. The prodrome, which may last from 2 hours to 2 days, stops when the blisters develop. About 25% of the time, recurrence does not go beyond the prodrome stage.
- Outbreak. Recurrent outbreaks feature most of the same symptoms at the same sites as the primary attack, but they tend to be milder and briefer. After blisters erupt, they typically heal in 6 to 10 days. Occasionally, the symptoms may not resemble those of the primary episode, but appear as fissures and scrapes in the skin or as general inflammation around the affected area.
Triggers of Recurrence
Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by different factors. They include sunlight, wind, fever, physical injury, surgery, menstruation, suppression of the immune system, and emotional stress. Oral herpes can be triggered within about 3 days of intense dental work, particularly root canal or tooth extraction.
Timing of Recurrences
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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What Happens During An Outbreak
Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. You catch it by having intimate contact with someone who has the virus.
In between episodes, most people don’t know they have been infected by it. The virus remains in your nervous system and can be reactivated from time to time to give you symptoms. Outbreaks can occur in the genital area if the first infection was in the genitals. They cause crops of small painful blisters in the genital area and back passage . Herpes can also cause recurrent cold sores if the primary infection was around the mouth.
No one knows why outbreaks occur, although sunlight, physical illness, excess alcohol, and stress are all thought to be trigger factors. They often do become less frequent over time.
Recurrent episodes of genital herpes generally don’t last as long as the first outbreak. They are sometimes preceded by itching or tingling in the genital area. Recurrent outbreaks usually last about 7-10 days, shorter than the primary infection which can last up to two weeks. They are also often milder than a primary infection but as R35506 found, the shallow ulcers left when the blisters break can still be quite painful.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cold Sores
Cold sores start with an itchy and tingling sensation usually on the mouth, lips or nose and may form small blisters that crust after 3 days.
Cold sores usually clear up after 2 weeks without leaving any scars. They can be highly contagious, even when the blisters arent present. The virus can spread between people by direct physical contact, such as kissing, skin-to-skin contact and sharing drink containers, eating utensils, towels or toothbrushes with someone who already has a cold sore.
As well as a blister-like spot, the following symptoms are also common:
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How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
Can You Get Herpes On Your Tongue
While you may associate herpes type 1 with cold sores on your lips, it is possible to suffer from the symptoms of herpes on your tongue. This is referred to as oral herpes and usually affects more of your mouth than just your tongue. More than half of all adults in the United States are thought to have oral herpes.
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How To Prevent Blisters Between Butts
There are various simple ways to prevent blisters between buttocks. Heres how to:
- Wear comfortable fitting inner clothes that absorb sweat.
- Apply sunscreen lotion between butts to prevent your skin from sunburn
- Avoid irritants and allergens that could trigger eczema such as bubble baths, sprays and detergents
- Avoid skin contact with someone who has active herpes
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
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Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Over The Counter Antivirals For Genital Herpes
- -Abreva is the only FDA-approved antiviral medication for herpes simplex that is available without a prescription. This medication slows the ability of the herpes virus to multiply in the body, which reduces symptoms and supports faster recovery.
- -Oral pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen arent antivirals, but theyre available over-the-counter to alleviate herpes-related pain and discomfort until your outbreak ends.
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How To Treat Herpes Outbreaks
There are two different types of antiviral regimens when it comes to treating recurrent genital herpes and oral herpes: suppressive treatment and episodic treatment.
Suppressive treatment consists of taking daily antiviral medication to suppress the number of outbreaks and thus is often suggested for people who have multiple outbreaks per year. Episodic treatment is more of a reactive treatment initiated on the first signs of an outbreak, what is known as the prodrome, or first signs of a lesion.
Antiviral medications, like acyclovir and valacyclovir, can be used for both types of treatment, although the dosages and the durations vary.
What is Suppressive Treatment?Suppressive herpes treatment aims to suppress and reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks by taking antiviral medication on a daily basis.
This preventative approach is often prescribed for individuals suffering from frequent outbreaks of six or more times per year. Medical studies report that a suppressive protocol may reduce the frequency of outbreaks by 75%, while for some individuals, a daily antiviral treatment inhibits outbreaks completely.
The quantity of antiviral medication varies, with individuals typically taking 1-2 pills on a daily basis. Additionally, suppressive treatments may prevent the transmission of genital herpes, since it suppresses viral shedding of HSV 2.
Suppressive treatment is therefore helpful and effective for couples who want to mitigate the risks of transmitting the STD.