Patients can manage most herpes simplex infections that develop on the skin at home with over-the-counter painkillers and measures to relieve symptoms.
Several simple steps can produce some relief:
- Hygiene is important. Avoid touching the sores. Wash hands frequently during the day. Fingernails should be scrubbed daily. Keep the body clean.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep blisters or sores clean and dry with cornstarch or similar product. (Women should avoid using talcum powder in genital areas; some studies suggest that talcum powder may increase the risk for ovarian cancer.)
- Some people report that drying the genital area with a blow dryer on the cool setting offers relief.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing, which restricts air circulation and slows healing of the sores.
- Choose cotton underwear, rather than synthetic materials.
- Local application of ice packs may alleviate the pain and help reduce recurrences.
- Lukewarm baths may be helpful.
- Wearing sun block helps prevent sun-triggered recurrence of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).
- Avoid sex during both outbreaks and prodromes (the early symptoms of herpes), when signs include tingling, itching, or tenderness in the infected areas.
- Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can be used to reduce fever and local tenderness.
Herbs and Supplements
Review Date: 11/05/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.