Herpes - genital; Herpes simplex - genital; Herpesvirus 2; HSV-2
Genital herpes cannot be cured. However, antiviral medication can relieve pain and discomfort during an outbreak by healing the sores more quickly. These drugs appear to help during first attacks more than they do in later outbreaks. Medicines used to treat herpes include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
For repeat outbreaks, start the medication as soon as the tingling, burning, or itching begins, or as soon as you notice blisters.
People who have many outbreaks may take these medications daily over a period of time. This can help prevent outbreaks or shorten their length. It can also reduce the chance of giving herpes to someone else.
Pregnant women may be treated for herpes during the last month of pregnancy to reduce the chance of having an outbreak at the time of delivery. If there is an outbreak around the time of delivery, a C-section will be recommended to reduce the chance of infecting the baby.
Possible side effects from herpes medications include:
- Nausea and vomiting
Home care for herpes sores:
- Do NOT wear nylon or other synthetic pantyhose, underwear, or pants. Instead, wear loose-fitting cotton garments
- Gentle cleansing with soap and water is recommended.
- Taking warm baths may relieve the pain (afterward, keep the blisters dry)
If one of the sores develops an infection from bacteria, ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic.
Review Date: 05/09/2011
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine (9/13/2009).