Herpes Medication: Treatment And Drug Information
Herpes is a common, lifelong viral infection that affects nearly half of American adults under the age of 50.
Most infected individuals do not develop herpes symptoms at all, but for some people, herpes infections can cause painful sores, blisters, or lesions, often on the mouth or genitals.
People who carry the herpes virus can spread it to others through close, direct, and intimate contact.
In this article, Ill review the medications that doctors use to treat both oral and genital herpes.
These include the oral antiviral medications acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir .
Ill discuss how long it typically takes for these treatments to work, as well as the various dosages available with these treatments.
Ill examine the different kinds of herpes strains and look at the major side effects of herpes medications.
Finally, Ill discuss when to see a doctor if you think you may be experiencing a herpes breakout. .
How To Use Abreva Cream
Follow all directions on the product package, or use as directed by your doctor. Use this medication at the first signs of a cold sore . Wash and dry your hands before applying the medication. Clean and dry the affected areas. Apply a thin layer of medication to completely cover the area of the cold sore or the area of tingling/itching/redness/swelling and rub in gently, usually 5 times a day every 3-4 hours, or as directed by your doctor. Wash your hands with soap and water after applying. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Apply to skin only. Do not apply this medication in or near the eyes since this medication can irritate the eyes. If you do get medication in your eyes, flush with plenty of water. Do not apply inside the mouth or nose.
Remove any cosmetics from the affected area before applying. You may apply cosmetics after applying but use a separate applicator on infected areas to prevent spreading the infection. If you accidentally wipe off the medication, reapply as soon as possible.
Dosage is based on your medical condition, type of infection, and response to treatment. Do not use this drug more often or for longer than directed.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. This medication works best when the amount of drug absorbed by the skin stays at a constant level. Use this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, use it at the same times each day.
What Is The Incubation Period For Cold Sores
The time between infection and symptoms of primary oral herpes is anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.
The hallmark symptom of herpes is tingling or a burning sensation before the appearance of the outbreak:
- The classic sign of herpes is a cluster of blisters on a base of red skin.
- The blisters look like a drop of water filled with clear liquid.
- These blisters dry up rapidly and leave a crust or scab that lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.
- This pattern has important implications for the many people who fear they have herpes but dont, If you are healthy and the rash lasts for weeks, it is unlikely to be herpes.
Herpes infections feel dry and crusty, and they may cause pain or itch. Some patients have a prodrome, which is the occurrence of certain symptoms before the actual sores become fully evident. The prodrome to herpes infections typically involves flu-like symptoms and a burning or tingling sensation that precedes the appearance of blisters by a few hours or a day or two.
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How Can I Treat Herpes At Home
Certain dietary supplementsâlike lysine, vitamin C, zinc, and probioticsâcan help support your immune system and prevent or shorten outbreaks. Once an outbreak has begun, applying cold compresses, licorice root extract, lemon balm oil, manuka honey, or garlic can reduce its severity and provide symptom relief.
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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.
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When To Get Tested
Consult a doctor about any of the following symptoms:
- tingling or itching around the genitals
- pain when peeing
- unusual vaginal discharge
The World Health Organization describes the risk of the herpes virus passing to a newborn during childbirth. Although this is rare, people who are pregnant and have herpes should let their doctors know.
Using a condom or another barrier method of protection during sex reduces the risk of the virus transmitting. It is also a good idea to avoid sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes.
Several online companies offer STI testing kits, including:
- EverlyWell: This company sells tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and HIV.
- LetsGetChecked: This company sells tests for several common STIs, and it provides prescriptions at no extra cost if a test result is positive.
- PriortitySTD: This company returns results within 3 days.
Anyone with a positive test result should contact a healthcare professional.
When Should I Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes if you havent had an initial outbreak is 12 days after exposure. This is because your body will have had time to produce antibodies that can be detected on a test.
A blood test can determine whether you have these antibodies.
Swabs, on the other hand, can detect the virus directly from an active herpes lesion.
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How Common Is Herpes Meningitis
Because herpes meningitis often resolves on its own, not all cases are recorded, so its unclear exactly how common it is. For some perspective, older data show that tens of thousands of meningitis-related hospitalizations in the United States are due to a virus like a herpes virus. Experts believe most cases of herpes meningitis are caused by HSV-2, which is present in roughly 12% of U.S. adults under age 50.
How Should This Medicine Be Used
Acyclovir comes as a tablet, a capsule, and a suspension to take by mouth. It also comes as a delayed-release buccal tablet to apply to the upper gum of the mouth. The tablets, capsules, and suspension are usually taken with or without food two to five times a day for 5 to 10 days, starting as soon as possible after your symptoms begin. When acyclovir is used to prevent outbreaks of genital herpes, it is usually taken two to five times a day for up to 12 months. The delayed-release buccal tablet is usually applied with a dry finger as a one-time dose within 1 hour after itching, redness, burning or tingling cold sore symptoms begin but before the cold sore appears. Take or use acyclovir at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take or use acyclovir exactly as directed. Do not take or use more or less of it or take it more often or for a longer time than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not chew, crush, suck, or swallow the delayed-release buccal tablets. Drink plenty of liquids, if you have a dry mouth while using the delayed-release buccal tablets.
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Antiviral Agents Prevent Viral Replication Through Their Competitive Inhibition Of Viral Dna Polymerase In Contrast Docosanol Appears To Inhibit Replication By Blocking Viral Entry Into Cells
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Herpes labialis affects 1 in 5 Americans each year and accounts for the largest reservoir of herpes simplex virus infections. The frequency of recurrence of herpes labialis has been estimated to be approximately 33%. In the United States, penciclovir is the only FDA-approved topical treatment option. Topical acyclovir is also used, but is not FDA approved. Abreva is an over-the-counter alternative to these agents. It is currently the only FDA approved nonprescription medication available for the treatment of cold sores.
Mechanism of action
Antiviral agents such as acyclovir and penciclovir prevent viral replication through their competitive inhibition of viral DNA polymerase. In contrast, docosanol appears to inhibit replication by blocking viral entry into cells. Incorporation of docosanol into the plasma membrane is believed to alter the normal membrane to inhibit the fusion of virons to the host cell. Unlike the nucleoside analogue agents, acyclovir and penciclovir, docosanol does not block replication shared by the virus and the infected target cell. This may possibly prevent the induction of drug-resistant viral mutant strains that can possible occur with the use of nucleoside analogues
|Cost of Topical HSV Drugs|
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What Are The Best Natural Remedies For Herpes
When experiencing a herpes outbreak, one of the most important things someone can do is keep the area clean, cool, and dry, since heat and dampness can irritate the sores. Maintaining a healthy immune system can go a long way too, according to Dr. Hayag. “A strong, healthy immune system can keep herpes under control, prevent outbreaks, and reduce the duration of symptoms,” she says. “Supplements like zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea are vital to increasing your immune function and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.” And when it comes to natural remedies, there are several that can provide much-needed relief.
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What Are Genital Herpes Symptoms
Outbreaks got you feeling like you won the STI lottery? Cheer up, herpes is as common in dating as the awkward first kiss. Unfortunately, many people dont know they have it. 1 in 6 humans has genital herpes or HSV-2. Individuals with HSV-2 will experience genital outbreaks for the rest of their lives, although many individuals mistake them simply as genital pimples or fever blisters but painful genital ulcers, call em what you want, are usually a sign you have genital herpes.
Swollen or tender lymphs in the legs & groin
Headache & pain in your joints
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
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What Types Of Doctors Treat Cold Sores
Most pediatricians and primary care providers are very familiar with cold sores and their treatment. Most cases do not need the services of a dermatologist . An infectious-disease specialist is often consulted in complicated cases, such as herpes encephalitis or herpes in a person with a weak immune system. The care of an ophthalmologist is important in managing ocular herpes, or herpes keratitis.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing theyll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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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.
Medicare Coverage Of Std Treatments And Screenings
If youre seeking Medicare coverage for STD treatments, scroll down to the section on prescription drug coverage. According to the National institutes of Health, STD treatments generally include prescription drugs, such as antibiotics.
Prevention and screening may help you avoid having to get STD treatments. Medicare may cover screening for sexually transmitted diseases , also known as sexually transmitted infections , under Medicare Part B as a preventive service benefit.
While it may not cover STD treatment, Medicare Part B may cover screening lab tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or hepatitis B. These screening lab tests may be covered if you are pregnant and/or who have an increased risk for an STD. Medicare will also cover short counseling sessions on STD prevention to those at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened for an STD if you:
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have a new sex partner
- Have a sex partner whos infected with an STD
- Are a man who has had sex with men
- Use street drugs and share your equipment with anyone
STD screenings and behavioral counseling may be provided at no cost if your doctor accepts Medicare assignment and determines you are at an increased risk for contracting an STD. If you receive behavioral counseling, you must receive the counseling from a primary care practitioner in a primary care setting, such as a doctors office, or it might not be covered.
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Find A Doctor You Feel Comfortable With
While some doctors have a special interest in sexual health, others may not be familiar with, or comfortable discussing, these issues. Finding a doctor with whom you can openly and comfortably discuss these issues is important. There are doctors who specialise in this area: some are in private clinics, while others belong to sexual health services. There are also sexual health services in country areas. All sexual health services are strictly confidential.
Talk to your doctor if you are feeling worried about the impact of genital herpes on your sex life, relationship or future relationships. Your doctor can give you advice on how to discuss sexually transmitted infections with your partner, and can recommend support groups.