Genital Herpes, commonly known as herpes is a very common STD which affects both men and women. HSV-2 is the virus responsible for causing genital herpes (HSV-1 causes cold sores). Genital herpes is a very condition which affects up to 16 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 49.
There is still currently no treatment that can cure herpes, if you get it, it’s for life. However, there are a number of treatment options which are used to treat genital herpes.
Prescriptions Drugs (Antivirals)
Antiviral medication is recommended in almost all cases of genital herpes infection. Prescription drugs inhibit proliferation of the virus, but they do not cure genital herpes. These prescription drugs help people living with genital herpes to reduce the number of future episodes. Antiviral medications can also shorten and prevent outbreaks for as long as the person takes the medication.
- Aciclovir: Aciclovir tablets over the counter, also known as acyclovir is primarily used for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections. The usual recommended adult dosage is 800 mg administered every 4 hours, 5 times daily. Aciclovir reduces the frequency of herpes outbreaks.
- Famvir: This drug is used to treat both adolescents and adults with genital herpes. It is also used to treats outbreaks of herpes simplex that cause cold sores around the mouth, sores around the anus, and genital herpes. In people with frequent outbreaks of genital herpes, Famvir is used to help reduce the number of future episodes.
- Valtrex: is an antiviral drug which can be found under the name Valacyclovir. It is one of the most widely used and effective drugs on the market for treating and controlling cold sores, shingles, and genital herpes.
The number of times these drugs are to be taken vary, and people with frequent episodes may need to take their prescriptions daily on an ongoing basis as directed by their physician. It is important to know that taking these drugs when you do not have symptoms has been shown to reduce the risk of sexual transmission to a partner.
Over the Counter Medication
While over the counter medications may not reduce the number of outbreaks, they serve as great supplementary treatment options for people living with genital herpes. Over-the-counter antiviral therapy creams may help speed recovery from oral or genital herpes infections, and other options can help ease discomfort. Here are some great options to consider.
- Abreva: This is the only FDA approved antiviral medication available for the treatment of genital herpes that you can get without a prescription. Abreva is available as a cream that you apply directly to the affected area about every three to four hours. This medication should only be applied on the skin, not inside your mouth, eyes, or vagina.
- Pain-relieving lotions and creams: Medicated pain creams or lotions can ease discomfort associated with sores. There are a number of over-the-counter options available. Be sure to confirm with your doctor or pharmacist that the product you select is safe to use on herpes lesions, and wash your hands before and after you apply any product.
- Oral pain relievers: These drugs will help you manage the pain of herpes outbreaks. Oral medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen) can help relieve herpes-related pain for several hours.
Asides antivirals and painkillers, there are other alternative therapies for the treatment of genital herpes. Some of these medications are still undergoing research and may take a while before they get out to the public. Some options that have shown promise in the treatment of genital herpes are.
- Propolis: Propolis is a sticky substance that bees produce using saps from trees. Studies have found that people who are treated with Propolis experience faster healing of herpes lesions and a higher likelihood of fully healed lesions by day 10 of treatment when compared to people who receive placebo.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used for the treatment of pain caused by herpes lesions with some beneficial results. This treatment method, while mildly helpful, has also rarely been associated with transmission of HSV, so it is best to consider it with caution.
- Algae Extract:This is one of the treatment options in the works for treating genital herpes. In laboratory settings, algae extract has been shown to inhibit HSV-2 growth so this may be a considered a useful component in alternative treatments in the future.
P.S Before trying out any ‘new’ cure for genital herpes you see on the internet, make sure to do a thorough background study of the treatment. Also, it is important that your doctor also knows about it.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle
Aside from medications, there are some things that you can do at home to reduce the pain of genital herpes. Additionally, you can also take a few steps to prevent the lesions from getting worse and spreading or an infection from recurring. The following tips will help you deal with herpes outbreaks.
- Cold compresses: a well-insulated ice pack can relieve the pain of herpes lesions. The cold will not worsen or improve the lesion, but it can lessen the pain.
- Avoid scratching: It is important to avoid touching and scratching lesions caused by herpes because you can spread the infection to other areas of your own skin.
- Keeping the sores clean: Cold sores and genital herpes infections can become infected with bacteria from your hands or, in the latter case, from urine or feces. It is important to keep the area of sores and blisters clean and dry to avoid an additional infection.
- Reduce stress: Stress can interfere with optimal immune system function. Reducing your stress may help prevent excessive herpes recurrences.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented?
Genital herpes may not be curable, but it is completely preventable. With this in mind, prevention is the best option, that is if you have not been diagnosed with it. If you do not have genital herpes, the best prevention is not to have sex with a person infected with herpes.
For people living with genital herpes, using latex condoms is a great way to stay protected, but not the best. This is because condoms do not provide complete protection, because a herpes lesion may not be covered by the condom and viral shedding may occur. As much as possible, try avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks.