Even though there is no cure for genital herpes, several treatments are available. Treatment of genital herpes is aimed at relieving symptoms and reducing the frequency of recurrent infections (outbursts). Most cases of herpes may be resolved without treatment. However, treatment is important as it also helps to reduce the risk of spreading this common disease to others, especially sexual partners.
The symptoms during a primary infection of genital herpes can be very severe. Therefore, most people will require treatment.
Available treatments for herpes include:
Antiviral Drugs: Using anti-viral drugs - such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir - can reduce the ability of herpes simplex virus to replicate and thus help reduce the chances of spreading it to others. These drugs also reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, especially during an outbreak. Acyclovir is available in form of a cream and pills. These medications may be taken by people who have primary and recurrent infections.
There are two types of treatment regimens for genital herpes: episodic and suppressive therapy.
Episodic Therapy: Episodic therapy is aimed at treating the symptoms during a primary infection. Providing treatment as soon as the first symptoms are noticed helps reduce the duration of infection. Treating genital herpes when the symptoms have already progressed may prove to be difficult. Treatment with anti-viral drugs during episodic therapy can last from three to five days.
Suppressive Therapy: The goal of suppressive therapy is to reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Patients are recommended to take anti-viral medications on a daily basis. This helps to prevent the virus from reproducing and thus reducing flare ups. Depending on the drug prescribed, a daily dosage of one to two tablets is advisable. In severe cases, acyclovir is administered intravenously. The symptoms during an outburst of genital herpes tend to be less severe and last for a shorter duration as compared those experienced during a primary infection.
Trying alternative therapies can also improve some symptoms of herpes, such as pain and help sores to heal faster. Alternative treatments may include:
Painkillers: In mild cases, using over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen will be enough to relieve pain. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers, such as corticosteroids.
Living a healthy lifestyle: Exercising regularly, eating healthily and avoiding stress can help to reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Dealing with stress is particularly important, since stress has been shown to provoke outbursts. Trying relaxation techniques, such as breathing and meditation, can help to relieve stress.
Herbs: Trying ointments that contain certain herbs such as Echinacea, St John’s wort and aloe vera can help alleviate symptoms. These help speed up the process of healing sores.
Supplements: Taking supplements such as vitamin C and D and lysine is an all-around good idea.
Other alternative treatments for genital herpes include using honey, garlic and lemon balm.
Currently there is no available vaccine for the prevention of genital herpes. The most accurate way of preventing genital herpes is avoiding any form of sexual activity, especially during an outbreak. Having regular HSV tests can also limit you or your partner from contacting or spreading herpes.