5 Treatment Options for Herpes

May 7th 2016

While there is no cure for herpes simplex 1 and 2, these conditions are treatable with medications and home remedies. Seeking medical attention at the first sign of an outbreak and taking preventative measures while the virus lays dormant can help sufferers manage their condition and keep symptoms under control.

1. Oral Antiviral Medications

Acyclovir, Valacyclovir and Famciclovir are the three antiviral medications that are approved by the FDA as effective treatments for herpes simplex. When taken at the first sign of an initial outbreak, these antiviral medications have been shown to slow viral production and shorten outbreak durations. Antiviral medications have also been proven effective in suppressing outbreaks and lowering the risk of transmission to others when taken on a daily basis. However, specific results can vary, so it is always best for individuals with herpes simplex to discuss their particular treatment needs with a physician.

2. Topical Antiviral Medications

Antiviral medications for herpes simplex infections are also available in topical solutions. Topical solutions are typically prescribed to treat initial genital herpes outbreaks, as well as herpes simplex infections of the mouth and skin. Similar to oral antiviral medications, topical solutions may help to shorten the duration of outbreaks, as well as minimize pain caused by herpes blisters. Topical treatments do not prevent the spread of active herpes infections.

3. Non-Prescription Topical Medications

Topical ointment medications containing the ingredients L-lysine and benzocaine can help to minimize pain and discomfort caused by open herpes blisters. The medications should be applied directly to the blisters for optimal results. Non-prescription topical treatments should only be utilized when advised by a physician.

4. Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and swelling caused by active herpes outbreaks. These medications should only be taken as directed while symptoms persist and will not shorten outbreak duration or hinder viral production.

5. Cool, Moist Compresses

Applying cool, moist compresses to open sores can help to naturally reduce swelling and minimize pain and itchiness. Compresses should be applied three times a day, followed by gentle pat-drying of the affected areas.


Herpes simplex is a viral infection that causes cold sores, fever blisters and lesions on the face or genitalia. Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) commonly causes cold sores on the face, while herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) is the most common cause of genital herpes. However, HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes when the virus is transmitted orally.

While there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus, there are several treatment options available. Antiviral medications can help to minimize outbreaks and symptom severity, while topical treatments and home remedies work well to relieve pain and discomfort.

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