Herpes Treatment

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD., July 7, 2017

Can herpes be cured or treated?

There is no cure or vaccine for herpes, but there are antiviral drugs that are useful in managing symptoms. These medications help control the severity, duration and frequency of outbreaks.

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Tell me about herpes treatments.

Most often herpes does not require any treatment as the vast majority of infected people never have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, the next step is to be examined by a doctor who will determine if the symptoms are due to herpes and whether or not medication is appropriate. Medication is used to decrease the severity and duration of symptoms and also to suppress the virus and decrease the frequency of outbreaks. The three antiviral medications used to treat genital herpes are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

Do herpes drugs help prevent the virus from spreading?

Yes, but not entirely. If you have genital herpes, but your sexual partner does not, then a daily medication can help reduce but not eliminate the possibility that they will contract it. You should use a latex condom when having sex and avoid sex altogether when you are having an outbreak. It’s important your partner get tested as most people don’t know they are infected.

There are FDA-approved drugs (creams and pills) to treat cold sores/fever blisters.

There are several creams and oral medications that are used to treat cold sores. If you have cold sores frequently you should get tested to help determine if they are due to the herpes virus.

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