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.
How Are Initial Outbreaks Treated
Antiviral medications can help to control the symptoms and shorten the duration of initial herpes outbreaks by 2 to 4 days. The treatment of an initial outbreak should be started within the first three days the earlier, the better.
The medications are taken as tablets. The number of tablets per day depends on the active ingredient and the dose. The World Health Organization recommends the following doses and amounts for treating an initial outbreak:
- aciclovir: 200 mg five times per day or 400 mg three times per day,
- famciclovir: 250 mg three times per day, or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg two times per day.
The WHO recommends that the treatment last ten days.
These three medications are about as effective as each other. Aciclovir is the most commonly used because doctors and patients have the most experience with this medication.
How To Take Valtrex Tablets
Take Valtrex tablets exactly as your doctor has prescribed. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you:
- how many tablets to take at each dose
- how many doses to take each day
- when to take your doses each day.
The label on the pack will give the same information. If there is something you do not understand, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
You May Like: Is Herpes Part Of Std Testing
Valtrex Side Effects And Interactions And How To Avoid Them
If youve ever had shingles or cold sores, you know how uncomfortable these infections can be. Valtrex is an antiviral medication that can help relieve symptoms that come from viral infections like shingles or chickenpox. This article gives an overview of drug information including Valtrex side effects, warnings, and drug interactions that you should be aware of before taking the medication.
What Is A Cold Sore Exactly
The herpes simplex virus causes a cold sore, which is a series of tiny, painful blisters . Fever blisters or herpes simplex labialis are other names for them. Around the world, up to 90% of people have at least one form of HSV. The indications of cold sores are frequently one of the most acute when they first appear. The very first cold sore in a child’s body often makes them very unwell. After the primary infection, your body should build antibodies, and you’ll never acquire another infectious disease. Many individuals, however, suffer from recurrent cold sores.
Read Also: What Is The Cause Of Herpes On Lips
Daily Therapy Cuts Herpes Transmission Risk
Taking Valtrex Once a Day Reduces Risk of Spreading Herpes
Dec. 31, 2003 — People with herpes who take an antiviral drug once a day can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by nearly 50%.
A new study shows that daily therapy with the antiviral drug Valtrex significantly lowers the risk of transmitting genital herpes among heterosexual couples in which one partner is infected with the herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Valtrex is commonly used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes, but preliminary results of this study prompted the FDA to approve a second indication for Valtrex in reducing the risk of transmitting the disease to susceptible heterosexual partners. The complete results appear in the Jan. 1, 2004, issue of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.
Valtrex is manufactured in the U.S. by GlaxoSmithKline. GlaxoSmithKline is a WebMD sponsor.
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 .
Don’t Miss: Will I Know If I Have Herpes
Can Valacyclovir Prevent Herpes Transmission
Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP
Valacyclovir is one of the most common and effective medications used to manage HSV-1 and HSV-2, two variants of the herpes simplex virus. While valacyclovir provides treatment for and management of herpes symptoms, its not a cure for the virus.
However, can it also act as a way of preventing herpes transmission? Scientific data shows that while valacyclovir is helpful in reducing the risk of herpes transmission, it isnt a 100% effective drug for preventing herpes entirely.
In this guide, well look at some of the study data on valacyclovirs effectiveness for preventing herpes transmission, as well as how the drug can be used to reduce your risk of infecting other people if you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Why Is This Medication Prescribed
Acyclovir is used to decrease pain and speed the healing of sores or blisters in people who have varicella , herpes zoster , and first-time or repeat outbreaks of genital herpes . Acyclovir is also sometimes used to prevent outbreaks of genital herpes in people who are infected with the virus. 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 will not cure genital herpes and may not stop the spread of genital herpes to other people.
Also Check: How To Wash Genital Herpes
Using Valacyclovir To Treat A Primary Outbreak Of Cold Sores
Valacyclovir is also used to treat primary outbreaks of cold sores, or oral herpes. The standard dosage of valacyclovir for managing a primary oral herpes outbreak is 2,000 mg every 12 hours for one day .
During a particularly severe or persistent outbreak, your doctor may recommend adjusting your valacyclovir dose or extending the dosage to provide greater relief. Follow your doctors advice and instructions for the best results from valacyclovir and other antiviral medication.
Treatment For Cold Sores
Cold sores have no treatment. Once you’ve contracted the virus, it will remain in your body for the rest of your life. In most cases, the sores will heal on their own in 1 to 2 weeks.
Antiviral drugs can help you recuperate faster, especially if you start taking them as soon as you notice an outbreak.
You May Like: What Can I Put On Herpes Blisters
Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over
While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.
People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.
If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.
If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.
So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.
Serious Side Effects Of Valtrex
Although its rare, Valtrex can cause more serious side effects that may require medical attention, including:
- Low blood cell counts
- Painful periods for women
If youre taking Valtrex and have any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor for medical advice as soon as possible.
If you have any signs of an allergic reaction like difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling of the face, mouth, or throat, you should seek immediate emergency medical treatment.
Other serious side effects that could potentially occur when taking Valtrex include:
- Inflammation of the liver
- Kidney failure
- A serious blood disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome
Some patients are more susceptible to these serious side effects than others. Consult your healthcare provider to find out if youre at risk.
These side effects are very rare. Antiviral medicines are effective at treating viral infections, but after long-term use, they can eventually weaken the immune system by affecting immune cells. This is typically only an issue for seniors and people with weakened immune systems. Even though its not typically taken for long periods of time, if your doctor does want you to take it long term, then thats okay. Some studies have even shown that the long-term use of Valtrex is well-tolerated for healthy individuals.
Recommended Reading: What Is Good For Genital Herpes
Coping With The Herpes Diagnosis
Anger, violation, and shame are typically the first on-set of feelings that are felt after being told youre going to have to deal with herpes for the rest of your life. You may also feel like youre the only one your friends and family will know that have it.
Wait, do you even want them to know? Who gave it to you? How do you even approach living your life with herpes now? These are some of the initial thoughts thatll probably race through your mind in the same doctors office where you just found out a few seconds ago.
Although diagnoses are overwhelming and can be traumatic by nature, theres also a positive in it. You can take power and control of your life by knowing whats going on with your body. In fact of the 20 percent of people who have HSV-2, only 10 to 15 percent of them know that they have it. Thats because at least 10 percent of herpes sufferers have mild to no symptoms at all. Herpes can produce quite mild symptoms to where you can mistakenly attribute it to various other problems without even thinking it could be a sexually transmitted disease. This then encourages the unintentional cycle of passing herpes on. With having an official diagnosis, you can
Coping With Herpes In A Relationship
Many people with herpes suffer a form of depression that prevents them from dating or having any sort of sexual encounter after being diagnosed. In their mind, the unsurities of having herpes and navigating the dating world is too overwhelming to be worth delving into. Again, the undeserved feelings of embarrassment and shame alone may be overpowering enough to keep someone from even talking to a hot guy or cute girl.
An effective way to break out of this self-destructive cycle is to know about yourself, your outbreaks, and what you can do to still have an enjoyable social and sex life.
- Talk about your status to your partner*
- Use condoms to reduce transmission by 30 percent
- Use oral antiviral drugs with a form of suppressive daily therapy to reduce transmission by 50 percent
- Use a protocol aimed at naturally breaking the herpes cycle
- Avoid sexual activity during outbreaks
Many people often find that their sex life is more satisfying and enriched than before diagnosis. This is because when oral sex and genital-to-genital contact is avoided during outbreaks, sexual partners can explore many other ways to still have a fulfilling sexual relationship.
You May Like: Can You Spread Genital Herpes To Yourself
You Can Only Get Genital Herpes If Your Partner Has An Active Infection With Sores Right Wrong
A person can be exposed to the virus and pass it to someone else without ever having symptoms. It happens more often than youd think. Thats because the virus can exist in genital fluids even without any ulcers. This is called “asymptomatic shedding of virus.” Although there is a lot more active virus when there are sores, asymptomatic shedding is probably how most people get herpes. Whats more, only one out of four people who tests positive for genital herpes actually knows that they have the virus. Thats a lot of people. Combine the two and you have many people unknowingly infecting others.
As with the couple above, many people who learn they have genital herpes are shocked. They tell me that they didnt see any sores on their partner or that their partner had never ever had any ulcers, ever . This is common and true, because people can have genital herpes and not know it.
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.
You May Like: How To Tell You Have Herpes
Valtrex For Genital Herpes
Even if youre taking Valtrex, its still possible to have an outbreak. If youre taking Valtrex for recurrent genital herpes and have an outbreak, its important to avoid sexual contact with your partner to keep the virus from spreading to them. Even if youre not experiencing an outbreak, using condoms is a good idea to prevent transmission.
Also, if youre wondering if your uninfected partner can take Valtrex to avoid becoming affected, the answer is no. Someone without herpes simplex virus shouldnt take medication for something they dont have. This could cause serious side effects or health problems.
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.
Also Check: Is Herpes Treatable With Antibiotics
Antiviral Tablets To Stop The Herpes Virus Multiplying
Antiviral medicines taken by mouth, such as valaciclovir or acyclovir, are the most effective in controlling symptoms, although they cant cure genital herpes. They stop the virus from multiplying in body cells where the virus is present. The medicine only works while you are taking it. The infection can come back when you stop taking it.
Antiviral tablets are used in the following two ways:
- To treat outbreaks as they happen : The aim is to shorten the time each outbreak lasts and to relieve symptoms. This works best when taken as soon as you get symptoms and before the blisters appear.
- To prevent or reduce recurrences : If you get frequent or severe recurrent outbreaks, your doctor may recommend you take antiviral tablets every day to help prevent recurrences. Suppressive therapy is taken continuously, every day, for months or years. Suppressive antiviral therapy may help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Antiviral creams bought over the counter from the pharmacy are not recommended as a treatment for a first episode or recurrent genital herpes as they are of little benefit. Antiviral tablets are the preferred treatment.
Got Ulcers Get Tested
A person with genital ulcers should see his or her doctor. Its important to confirm whether or not it is herpes and if so, what type. Genital herpes outbreaks are treated with antiviral medications. These medications can help to reduce the number of days of discomfort and have few side effects. They are most effective when taken early in an outbreak. Some people take these drugs daily to prevent outbreaks.
Once someone has had a test that confirms either type of genital herpes, future partners can have a blood test which tells them if they already have been exposed to the same strain of virus. If the person tests negative, the partner with the infection would be advised to take antiviral therapy daily, in order to help prevent infecting his or her partner. Although daily antiviral therapy decreases the chances of spreading the virus, there is no guarantee, so its best to have a frank conversation with a new sexual partner.
Don’t Miss: How To Tell If You Have Genital Herpes
Continue Learning About Genital Herpes
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
How Can I Date With Herpes
Its up to you to decide the right time to tell a date that you have genital herpes. Follow two rules: First, dont wait until after having sex. Second, dont wait until youre just about to have sex in which case the attraction may be too strong for either of you to think rationally and act responsibly.
Read Also: What To Do When You Have Genital Herpes