Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 23, 2011

What are the treatments for herpes?

I’m curious about what are the treatments for herpes. Can you tell me more?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on November 23, 2011

I certainly understand your concern, and I’m happy to provide you some information.

Herpes is a relatively common sexually transmitted disease (STD)...and even though most people with a herpes infection don’t have symptoms, those who do may benefit from treatment. Why? Not only can treatment help reduce the length and severity of a herpes outbreak, it can also help prevent the transmission of herpes to a sexual partner...whether or not symptoms are present.

The typical treatments for herpes are antiviral medications. Some of most commonly used oral antiviral medications include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex).

If you have a herpes infection, you can talk to your doctor about your treatment needs...keeping in mind that some mild cases don’t require any treatment at all. Depending on how severe your outbreaks are, and how often you get them, your doctor might recommend that you take the medications daily (even when you don’t have symptoms) to suppress the virus, prevent outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmission to a sexual partner. Or, if you don’t have outbreaks very often or aren’t in a sexual relationship, your doctor might suggest medication only when symptoms are present.

Keep in mind that even with treatment, herpes can come back...and, unfortunately, there isn’t yet a cure. That’s why prevention is so important.

You can learn more about herpes treatments in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2. Thanks for your question and I wish you the best of health. 

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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