Prescription medication for genital herpes, delivered discreetly to your door

Genital herpes is surprisingly easy to catch. Once you have the virus, it will stay in your body for good, but antiviral medications can effectively treat herpes outbreaks. 

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Written by Dr Helen Okoye, MD

Information last reviewed 06/21/19

About

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is an STD that is transmitted from one person to another via the herpes simplex virus. After a person has been infected, the infection might show up in the form of blisters instantly, or it may remain dormant in the person’s body and reactivate multiple times a year. In many cases, genital herpes leads to pain, sores, itching, and discomfort in the genital area. In some cases, you might be infected, and not show any symptoms. Medications and the use of condoms can help prevent this disease from spreading, although it is important to note that condoms may not cover all the sores and you can still get infected from skin to skin contact with an affected area. [2]

Causes

Causes of Genital Herpes

The key cause of genital herpes is HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus-2). A person may be infected with HSV-2, but not show any symptoms. Approximately 30-50% of people infected with HSV-2 may be asymptomatic. Even if someone does not show any symptoms, they can pass on the infection [3]. This includes people who have a known herpes infection, but who currently do not show any symptoms. It is recommended that you use condoms to protect yourself from genital herpes, but you should also be aware that a condom may not cover all the sores, and contact with any sores can result in becoming infected.


HSV-2 is quite common in the USA. About one or two million infections and 600,000-800,000 clinical cases are reported in a year. About 40-60 million people are infected with it. [4]

Symptoms

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

The symptoms of genital herpes may take a few days to appear after you are exposed to the virus. Some of the common symptoms of genital herpes are:

  • Itching or pain

You might feel tenderness or pain in your genital area until the infection goes away.

  • Blisters or Bumps
  • People also get small white blisters or red bumps after they have been infected.
  • Ulcers
  • If your blisters or bumps have ruptured, they might ooze, bleed or might turn into ulcers. Ulcers often cause a lot of pain and discomfort and make it difficult for a person to urinate.
  • Scabs
  • In many cases, when your ulcers are healing, the skin might crust over and cause scabs. [5]
  • A few other symptoms that may appear during primary infection are headache, fever, and malaise. They occur in 39 percent of men and 68 percent of females. [7]

Some studies have shown that from one-half to two-thirds of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. But, if they appear, local symptoms may be seen  two to twelve days after exposure. [6]

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Genital Herpes

The diagnosis of genital herpes can be done by a healthcare professional by looking at visible sores. In many cases, the healthcare professional will use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from a visible sore in order to get it tested in a lab. If the diagnosis cannot be done by visual examination, it is highly likely that the doctor will opt for a blood test. [8]

Related Conditions

The Vulnerable Group

According to research, teenagers are at a higher risk of genital herpes as they often don’t have enough immune system antibodies to offer protection against the virus. Teenagers who were exposed to herpes in childhood are more vulnerable. [9] Others who are immunocompromised are also at risk.

Treatment

Treatment for Genital Herpes

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for genital herpes, but it can be controlled by self-care and medications. Some self-care tips that can help with genital herpes are:

  • Making sure the infected area is clean and dry
  • Wearing loose cotton clothes, especially undergarments
  • If you are experiencing too much pain in the infected area, use a cold compress
  • Taking Epsom salt baths and soaking in water for a few minutes daily.

Medication for Genital Herpes

To treat genital herpes, a doctor may prescribe the following antiviral medications:

  • Penciclovir (Denavir)
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

All these antiviral medications should work well for most patients. Any of these medications can be taken daily, especially if you have six or more outbreaks in a year. Many people are advised to take the prescribed medicine for at least a year and then request the doctor to re-evaluate after the year is up. [10]

Our doctors will decide which medication suits you best. These medications are often recommended for pregnant women who have the first trimester of pregnancy as they don’t lead to problems like congenital disabilities. [12]

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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.

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