Genital Herpes Treatment

genital herpes treatmentApproved antiviral drugs include acyclovir (Zovirax®), valacyclovir (Valtrex®), and famciclovir (Famvir®).

Antiviral medication is commonly prescribed for patients having a first episode of genital herpes, but they can be used for recurrent episodes as well.

Genital herpes treatment regimens

Episodic therapy

During an episodic therapy regime, the patient begins taking the medication at the first sign of a genital herpes outbreak. The medication is then taken for several days to hasten the recovery or healing or to prevent a full outbreak from fully occurring.
All three of the approved medications help shorten the amount of time during which a person may experience symptoms of herpes. However, results may vary from person to person.

Suppressive therapy

Suppressive therapy is used in individuals with recurrent genital herpes who want to prevent outbreaks. Patients who have six or more outbreaks per year may take antiviral medications on a regular basis, before symptoms appear.
For these individuals, studies have reported that suppressive therapy may reduce the number of outbreaks by at least 75% while the medication is being taken. Suppressive therapy may completely prevent outbreaks in some patients. Suppressive therapy may need to be taken for the rest of the patient’s life.

Side effects of antiviral medicines include

  • upset stomach
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • weakness

Promising alternative therapies to treat genital herpes

Selected References

American Social Health Association. Accessed April 28, 2009.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed April 28, 2009.
Cline JS. Sexually transmitted diseases: will this problem ever go away? N C Med J. 2006 Sep-Oct;67(5):353-8.
Rupp RE, Stanberry LR, Rosenthal SL. Vaccines for sexually transmitted infections. Pediatr Ann. 2005 Oct;34(10):818-20, 822-4.