Treating Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes Treatment »

Although there is no cure for genital herpes, there are a number of anti viral drugs that aim to reduce pain, discomfort and the number of outbreaks that you experience throughout the year. How often you need to take medication will vary depending on the frequency of your outbreaks and whether this is your first outbreak or a reoccurrence.


The main antiviral medication that is prescribed is Acyclovir. This medication is the longest used antiviral drug and it is also the one that is most often prescribed to treat viral infections such as genital herpes. Acyclovir is usually taken orally and it works by stopping the virus from replicating. When you are given the drug, it is in its inactive form and it is only converted to an active form by the virus so therefore the drug will only affect cells that are infected by the herpes simplex virus. Once the virus has converted Acyclovir, it then goes on to use it to synthesise its DNA. However, once the Acyclovir has been incorporated into the DNA, it stops DNA synthesis, which means the virus cannot replicate. This in turn reduces the number of outbreaks and helps the blisters heal faster.

In order to take Acyclovir, it will need to be prescribed to you by a doctor. It must be stored at room temperature and taken as instructed. If taken orally, it can be taken with or without food.  Acyclovir can also be given as an ointment and has some success if applied to blisters.  As with any drug there is the possibility of side effects and for Acyclovir, these include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. In rare instances, you may experience a reaction to the drug, which causes symptoms such as confusion, deliria, rash and anaemia. If you have serious side effects, you should consult your doctor.

Treating a primary infection

If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and it is your first outbreak, then the doctor will prescribe you antiviral drugs in an attempt to quicken the healing process of your blisters. They will usually prescribe you the drug Acyclovir and you will be told to take the drug twice daily for 5 days. This should speed up the healing process and make the outbreak less painful.

Treating recurrent outbreaks

Usually, recurrent outbreaks are not as severe as the primary infection and you may not need medication to help with the pain. You may be able to deal with home care methods such as washing with salted water, taking painkillers and urinating under water. These will be suggested if you return to the doctors with a recurrent outbreak. However, in some cases, recurrent outbreaks can be quite severe so if these outbreaks occur less than 6 times a year you will be given the 5 day Acyclovir treatment at the time of your outbreak.

Treating frequent outbreaks

If you experience a number of outbreaks throughout the year, say more than 6, and they appear to never end then you will be offered a different sort of treatment plan. Rather than taking antiviral drugs for a short period of time, you are advised to take acyclovir twice a day for up to twelve months. This will hopefully reduce the number of recurrent outbreaks and reduce the risk of passing on the infection to your partner. If you are experiencing numerous outbreaks over a short period of time, it is best to seek this specialist treatment and also get tested for other STI’s such as HIV as HIV can influence the number of outbreaks of genital herpes.

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