Genital Herpes Treatment
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If you have genital herpes and you’re worried about treating outbreaks when they happen, Zava offers antiviral medications online (Aciclovir, Famciclovir, and Valaciclovir), for treating a current herpes outbreak.
You can also order suppression therapy if you experience six or more genital herpes outbreaks in a year or if you get intense outbreaks or they’re really distressing. Suppression therapy is low-dosage, antiviral treatment taken over a longer period of time to prevent outbreaks happening.
To order genital herpes tests or treatment, simply fill out a brief medical questionnaire and order your preferred treatment option. A Zava doctor will check your order and if it’s approved, it can be sent to you.
Genital herpes treatments
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Genital Herpes Treatment
Available treatment options
For genital herpes, antiviral medication is usually recommended. The three main types are:
You can also get over-the-counter medications, like painkillers and a numbing ointment (5% lidocaine gel) from any pharmacy to help relieve the itching during repeat outbreaks of herpes.
How to get testing and treatment
If you’d like to place an order for one of our genital herpes home test kits or genital herpes antiviral treatment, you can follow the steps below:
- Fill out a short online assessment form
- Place an order for a genital herpes test kit or treatment
- Your order will be checked and approved if appropriate
- It can then be posted to your preferred address or you can collect it from a local Post Office instead
Common side effects of treatment
Like most medications, you could get some common side effects when taking genital herpes antiviral medications. These include:
- Feeling sick
- Stomach pain
- Skin rashes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be passed on by having sexually contact, through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It’s very common in young people between ages 20 to 24.
It’s caused by the same type of virus that causes cold sores; the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Some people infected with herpes virus don’t have symptoms until months or years later. But, if you notice any of the genital herpes symptoms below, you should think about getting a herpes test to find out if you have the infection:
- Small painful blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks
- For women, any vaginal discharge that is unusual for you
- Pain when you pee
- Tingling, burning, or itching around your genitals
You can get tested for genital herpes by visiting the sexual health clinic or ordering a home genital herpes test kit online. After answering a few questions about your symptoms and sexual partners, a small cotton swab is used to take some fluid from one of your blisters or sores for testing. If you do have genital herpes, your partner(s) should also get tested.
Even though there’s currently no cure for genital herpes, you can manage the symptoms through lifestyle changes and antiviral medications. The three main antiviral treatment options are:
- Aciclovir: works by preventing viruses from multiplying, and this improves the infection and stops it from spreading
- Valaciclovir: known as a ‘pro-drug’, which is turned into aciclovir inside the body and then works the same way to treat the infection
- Famiciclovir: used to treat both genital herpes and shingles. It works by stopping the herpes virus from spreading and improves the infection
With the first genital herpes outbreak, your sores and blisters may last from about 10 days up to 28 days. You’ll usually start with a five-day course treatment of antiviral medication (Aciclovir or Valaciclovir), which should improve your symptoms, but if you’re still getting new symptoms you can continue the tablets for 10 days. The earlier you start treatment, the quicker your symptoms will improve.
Repeat outbreaks of genital herpes are usually milder and last for about 7 to 10 days. Usually, with mild outbreaks, you can use over-the-counter medications like pain killers and ointments (lidocaine) to improve the symptoms.
But, when the symptoms are more serious, and you get them less than six times a year, you can use antiviral medication to treat the outbreak. There are 2 different ways to treat repeat outbreaks like these:
- You could take a higher dosage of treatment for one or two days to help improve your symptoms. This is has a higher chance of causing side effects. The number of days you take the course for depends on which medication you choose.
- You could also take lower-dosage treatment for across a longer period of time (about 5 days) to help improve the symptoms. This has a lower risk of side effects
Some people may have regular, more serious outbreaks of genital herpes, more than six times a year. If this is the case for you, you could get a low-dose antiviral treatment, which you would take daily for about 6 or 12 months. This is known as ‘suppressive therapy’ and it helps to either stop the outbreaks completely, or make symptoms less serious.
If you use this treatment, you would then be asked to stop afterwards to see if your outbreaks then happen less often and are less serious. If the outbreaks haven’t improved, you may be offered another long-term, daily dose of antiviral medication.
You can also try the following home remedies to help you manage your symptoms during a herpes outbreak:
- Get over-the-counter painkillers to help ease the pain
- You can also get numbing ointments (5% lidocaine) from your local pharmacy to help relieve itching and pain
- Try to keep the area clean, using plain or salt water to prevent blisters becoming infected
- Ice wrapped in a tea towel (an ice pack) placed over the sores for 5-10 minutes may be soothing, but don’t put ice directly on your skin because it can cause ‘ice burn’
- Avoid wearing tight clothing that may irritate blisters or sores
- Drink plenty of water to help dilute your urine and make it less painful when peeing. Applying vaseline or petroleum jelly can also help ease the pain when peeing
- Avoid scented soaps and bubble baths which may cause irritation
- Avoid herbal remedies not approved by a medical professional because they won’t be proven to work, and may not be regulated, so they may not safe to use
If you’re having trouble with your symptoms, or getting outbreaks more than 6 times a year, we recommend thinking about medical treatment instead of just home remedies.
If you have genital herpes and you’re living with HIV, you should speak with a medical professional. Your herpes infection may become more serious because of the way HIV affects your immune system.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, you should get medical advice because the infection could pass to your unborn baby and cause a condition known as neonatal herpes. But, this can also be treated with antiviral medication.
There is currently no vaccine against the herpes virus yet, and no permanent cure either. So, you should be careful when having sexual intercourse with your partner(s).
When you have symptoms for herpes, there’s a high chance you could pass the virus on if you have sex. It’s better to stop having sex from when you first notice the symptoms of a herpes outbreak, until they are fully over.
If you do have sex, you should use a condom, but it may not fully protect against passing the virus on, because it may not cover all the areas where there are sores.
If you have herpes but you’re currently not showing any symptoms, you’re less likely to pass on the infection during sex. Sometimes the virus can be there on the skin, even if there are no symptoms: this is called ‘shedding’. It doesn’t happen with everyone, but it’s more likely to happen in the first year after you get the infection, or if you have a lot of outbreaks. It’s better to tell your partner(s) about your herpes infection and use a condom each time you have sex to help reduce the chance of passing the virus on.
Taking antiviral medication (suppressive treatment) long-term to prevent repeat infections can also reduce the risk of passing on the virus from shedding.
Mayo Clinic (2019). Genital Herpes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356167 [accessed 6th March 2019].
National Health Service (2019). Genital Herpes. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/genital-herpes/ [accessed 6th March 2019].
Patient.info (2019). Genital Herpes. [online] Available at: https://patient.info/health/sexually-transmitted-infections-leaflet/genital-herpes#nav-3 [accessed 6th March 2019].