There's no cure yet for genital herpes. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir*, famciclovir, or valacyclovir can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. Treatment should be started as soon as possible and is most effective when started within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir are available as tablets. Acyclovir also comes in a cream or ointment. Antiviral medications can also be used on a daily basis to prevent breakouts of genital herpes. This treatment, also referred to as suppressive therapy, is usually reserved for people who experience more frequent flare-ups.
It is best to avoid any cream or ointment that doesn't contain a specific antiherpes medication. This includes any preparation containing cortisone or antibiotics. These creams or ointments will not help and in some cases may make things worse. Using rubbing alcohol will only sting - and that's about all. If you are experiencing a lot of pain or discomfort, your doctor may prescribe an appropriate painkiller.
Other measures people can take to ease a breakout include:
- using bath salts (such as Epsom salts) and cold compresses
- keeping the infected area clean and dry
- wearing loose clothing and cotton underwear
It's important to make sure that the infection doesn't spread to other parts of the body. One of the more dangerous areas to spread the herpes virus to is the cornea of the eye. This can lead to blindness. Therefore, it is important for people with genital herpes to wash their hands thoroughly after touching sores or blisters and to use clean towels every time they wash - and not to reuse or share them. Genital herpes is not spread by toilet seats, bathtubs, swimming pools, or hot tubs.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of catching herpes. People with genital herpes should inform their sexual partner(s) that they have the condition, and take appropriate precautions. Condoms can help reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes. During oral sex, the risk of genital herpes may be reduced by wearing a condom on the penis, or using a condom cut lengthwise or a dental dam over the female genital area. It's important to know that condoms and dental dams do not always provide complete protection from herpes because they do not always cover all affected areas of the skin.
The medication valacyclovir can also help reduce the risk of herpes transmission (passing on herpes to a sex partner). It should be used in combination with safer sex practices such as condoms and dental dams.
People with herpes should avoid sex when there are visible sores or use a condom or dental dam every time they have sex. They should also check with their doctor to see whether using medication to reduce the risk of transmission would be an appropriate option for them.
If the first episode of herpes occurs during pregnancy, a woman should see her doctor right away to discuss the steps she should take to reduce the risk of passing herpes on to her baby.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Genital-Herpes