Herpes - genital; Herpes simplex - genital; Herpesvirus 2; HSV-2
Genital herpes cannot be cured. However, antiviral medication can relieve pain and discomfort during an outbreak by healing the sores more quickly. These drugs appear to help during first attacks more than they do in later outbreaks. Medicines used to treat herpes include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
For repeat outbreaks, start the medication as soon as the tingling, burning, or itching begins, or as soon as you notice blisters.
People who have many outbreaks may take these medications daily over a period of time. This can help prevent outbreaks or shorten their length. It can also reduce the chance of giving herpes to someone else.
Pregnant women may be treated for herpes during the last month of pregnancy to reduce the chance of having an outbreak at the time of delivery. If there is an outbreak around the time of delivery, a C-section will be recommended to reduce the chance of infecting the baby.
Possible side effects from herpes medications include:
Home care for herpes sores:
If one of the sores develops an infection from bacteria, ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic.
Once you are infected, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. Some people never have another episode, and others have frequent outbreaks.
In most outbreaks, there is no obvious trigger. Many people, however, find that attacks of genital herpes occur with the following conditions:
In people with a normal immune system, genital herpes remains a localized and bothersome infection, but is rarely life-threatening.
Pregnant women who have an active herpes infection on their genitals or in their birth canal when they deliver may pass the infection to their newborn infant.
Some peole may develop severe herpes infections that involve the brain, eyes, esophagus, livere, spinal cord, or lungs. These complications often develop in people who have a weakened immune system, AIDS, are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or who take high doses of cortisone.
Someone with an active herpes infection who has sexual contact with someone who is HIV positive is more likely to contract HIV infection themselves.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any symptoms of genital herpes, or if you develop fever, headache, vomiting, or widespread symptoms during or after an outbreak of herpes. Also call if you are unable to urinate.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workowski KA, Berman SM. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2006. MMWR. 2006;55(RR-11):1-94.
Cerink C, Gallina K, Brodell RT. The treatment of herpes simplex infections: an evidence-based review. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1137-44.
Gupta R, Warren T, Wald A. Genital herpes. Lancet. 2007;307(9605):2127-37.
Lebrun-Vignes B, Bouzamondo A, Dupuy A, Guillaume JC, Lechet P, Chosidow O. A meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of oral antiviral treatment to prevent genital herpes outbreaks. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57(2):238-46.
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