If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, then it is normal to feel a little upset. There is no cure for herpes — it is something you will have for the rest of your life. However, this is not as bleak a prognosis as you might assume. There are several very effective treatments that can help prevent and minimize outbreaks and also ease the discomfort when you do have an outbreak. Below, you can learn the basics of the most common genital herpes treatments.
Acyclovir is a prescription antiviral drug that is often prescribed to patients who are having active herpes outbreaks. Your doctor will generally instruct you to take the drug twice a day for five days. You will want to begin taking the medication as soon as possible once symptoms appear. For this reason, most people who have been diagnosed with herpes keep a small supply of acyclovir on hand so that they can start treatment immediately when symptoms appear, rather than having to wait to get an appointment with their doctor. Acyclovir will clear up a herpes outbreak within days.
Acyclovir is safe for most patients and does not generally cause serious side effects. Some patients feel nauseous or experience headaches after taking acyclovir, but taking the medication with food can minimize this.
Valacyclovir is another antiviral medication used to treat genital herpes. It helps clear up an outbreak faster, and it also helps decrease the pain and itching experienced during an outbreak. One advantage of valacyclovir over acyclovir is that it tends to work faster. Most people only need to take it for three days during an outbreak. If you are suffering from frequent outbreaks, your doctor may recommend taking a low dose once a day, consistently, to help prevent further outbreaks.
Like acyclovir, valacyclovir should be taken with food to prevent nausea.
NSAID pain relievers, like ibuprofen, will also help clear up an outbreak when taken in conjunction with one of the antiviral medications above. These medications alleviate inflammation, which can make your herpes sores less itchy. If they are less itchy, you won't touch them as much, which can help them heal faster.
Talk to your doctor about the herpes treatment options above. They can give you better guidance as to whether you should be taking a medication preventatively, or whether you should only take meds when you're having an outbreak.
If you need STD treatment, contact a medical professional near you.