Herpes Home > Genital Herpes Treatment

Although there is no cure for genital herpes, treatment can help shorten and prevent outbreaks. The first outbreak is almost always treated with an antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir. Some people with recurrent herpes take medication daily to prevent outbreaks. Management may also include suppressive therapy, which reduces the number of outbreaks or prevents them altogether.

Treating Genital Herpes: An Overview

There is no cure for genital herpes. However, several prescription medications are quite effective in speeding up healing and in helping to prevent future outbreaks. They can also decrease the risk of passing herpes to sexual partners.
These medicines are known as antivirals. Antiviral medicines that are approved for genital herpes treatment include:
(Click Genital Herpes Medication to learn more.)

Genital Herpes Treatment for Different Stages

The following sections explain in detail how genital herpes is treated during different stages of infection.
Treating the Initial Outbreak
The first outbreak of genital herpes is almost always treated with an antiviral medicine, which markedly speeds up the healing of genital herpes. Treatment for the first episode usually lasts seven to ten days.
Treating Recurrent Genital Herpes
Some people with recurrent genital herpes take medication during each outbreak to speed up healing. This episodic treatment must be started at the first sign of an outbreak, preferably during the early symptoms of genital herpes (known as the prodrome period). The medicine is continued for three to five days.
Although episodic treatment speeds up healing, for most people, outbreaks are shortened only by one or two days. If you and your healthcare provider choose episodic therapy, fill your prescription ahead of time and have it ready before an outbreak so you can begin treatment immediately.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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