The primary goal of genital herpes treatment is to provide relief from the pain and discomfort of herpes lesions. The secondary goal is to reduce the severity, duration and frequency of outbreaks.
The good news is that the first (or primary) outbreak is the worse one you’ll ever have to endure. Further attacks will become less and less severe with the passage of time; in many cases, outbreaks will eventually disappear altogether.
Female Genitel Herpes
For reasons unknown, women are four times more likely to be infected with HSV-2 than men are. Also, during the primary outbreak, women experience greater severity and more complications than their male counterparts do.
If the herpes lesions extend to the cervix or vagina, as opposed to external infection, pelvic pain, vaginal discharge and painful urination are likely to follow. In addition, Headaches and flu-like symptoms often accompany the genital lesions during the first outbreak.
Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the groin are common.
Some women are more susceptible to the virus than others. Consequently, they will suffer another outbreak of herpes sores during the second week.
Typically genital herpes blisters suppurate, burst and turn into shallow open sores. They then crust over and the scabs flake off after a day or two, without leaving scars.
Primary outbreaks are best treated with a 7 to 10 day course of antiviral medication.
There are three tried and tested drugs available (Please note: These are their chemical descriptions and not the brand names).
- Famiciclovir. (Please note: Note: the single dose version of Famiciclovir is not recommended for primary outbreak treatment.
The first herpes outbreak will likely last 2 to 3 weeks. The pain will usually go away after about a week, however, it can sometimes persist for up to 6 weeks.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and sensible home treatment procedures, as recommended later in this article, should accompany antiviral therapy.
Intermittent Genital Herpes Treatment
Prodromal symptoms – Nature’s Early Warning System of an impending Outbreak
A prodrome occurs ahead of the onset of pimples or blisters. It can occur from a few hours to a couple of days before the outbreak starts.
The signs are a distinctive tingling sensation acompanied by itching or pain in the area where and outbreak is about to occur. Once experienced, prodromal symptoms will not be easily forgotten.
Ask your doctor to prescribe some standby herpes medication. Keep your pills handy and be forever vigilant for both a prodrome, and in the unlikely event of that going unnoticed, the first simptoms of genital herpes, such as a blister or rash.
Start your antiviral therapy as soon as possible after the first prodromal symptoms (2 to 3 hours at the most). By doing so, you will reduce the severity and duration of the outbreak… and sometimes prevent it from happening altogether. You will also reduce the risk of herpes transmission during the infectious stage.
Many doctors recommend the single dose version of Famiciclovir for intermittent treatment.
You should consider daily antiviral therapy if you suffer from six or more genital herpes outbreaks a year. Although these drugs are expensive, doing so could greatly improve your quality of life and cut down the chances of passing the virus on to others.
Daily suppressive treatment can reduce the number of outbreaks by 70% to 80%. Sometimes it can even put a stop to them altogether.
If you decide to go this route, see your doctor once a year. The severity and duration of outbreaks diminish naturally over time, therefore at some point in the future, suppressive treatment will no longer be necessary.
- Personal hygiene is of paramount importance during an outbreak.
- Take 3 to 4 warm showers or sitz baths daily and gently wash the lower body using a mild non-perfume soap or shower gel.
- After washing, carefully dab the genital area with a soft towel and then use a hair dryer on a low setting to complete the drying process.
- Cover the ulcers with a thin layer of cornstarch paste – this will help keep them clean and dry. Be sure to use a q-tip in order to avoid touching the sores with your fingers.
- Wear loose fitting cotton underpants. Unlike synthetic material, cotton absorbs moisture and allows air to circulate more readily. Also, the loose fitting underwear won’t cause unnecessary chaffing.
- Do not use topical ointments or balms. They are ineffective against genital herpes and often cause more harm than good.
- To avoid passing the virus on, total abstinence from sex is essential during an outbreak.
- Stay fit and maintain a balanced diet.