How do you get rid of Genital Herpes?
While the herpes simplex virus (HSV) causing genital herpes can’t be cured, genital herpes can be treated to effectively clear up and get rid of genital herpes symptoms.
Treatment options to get rid of genital herpes outbreaks and effectively suppress the HSV consist of:
Aciclovir: Aciclovir (also known as Acyclovir) is an antiviral medication taken to both clear gential herpes outbreaks and suppress the herpes virus. Aciclovir works by stopping the HSV from multiplying, which significantly shortens the outbreak duration and accompanying symptoms. The efficacy of Aciclovir as a suppression treatment for genital herpes is significant, it can help to prevent up to 80% of outbreaks from recurring.
Valtrex: Valtrex is the branded version of Valaciclovir. Valtrex is highly effective at treating genital herpes outbreaks and suppressing the herpes virus. Valtrex is as equally effective at treating genital herpes as Valaciclovir. The main difference between the two is that Valtrex is a branded version and Valaciclovir is the unbranded version. Both have the same level of efficacy as each other, however, the excipients used to make the tablet may differ slightly. Valtrex is also more expensive than Valaciclovir.
Valaciclovir: Valaciclovir (also known as Valacyclovir) is an antiviral medication used in the treatment of herpes. It is highly effective at treating and suppressing genital herpes. Valaciclovir is a precursor of Aciclovir, which means it changes into Aciclovir in the body. This means it stays in the body for longer and does not need to be taken as often.
Famciclovir: Famciclovir is an antiviral medication effective at treating genital herpes. Famciclovir works by preventing the virus from reproducing, significantly reducing the severity and length of a genital herpes outbreak.
While all four of these medications are equally effective in their treatment of genital herpes, Aciclovir is the most cost-effective antiviral medication to treat genital herpes outbreaks and to suppress the HSV.
What is Genital Herpes?
Gential herpes is a very common, highly contagious sexually transmitted infection (STI) affecting approximately 25% of sexually active adults in the UK. Genital herpes is a viral infection, caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV: herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 which is spread through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. The symptoms of genital herpes can be typically very mild making it easy to pass on, they usually consist of blisters and sores that form on the skin around the genital area and can cause pain when you pee. The other type of herpes is the HSV-1 type which typically causes oral herpes in the form of cold sores that appear on the face and around the mouth; it is passed on through kissing and sharing objects such as a razor, toothbrush or eating utensils.
Once you get genital herpes, the HSV remains permanently in the body. Following the first primary outbreak, following outbreaks of genital herpes symptoms can occur from time to time. While recurring genital herpes outbreaks are common, they usually have milder symptoms in comparison with the first initial outbreak. The genital herpes virus can also remain dormant for a long time and some people never experience symptoms despite having the virus.
Genital Herpes is a viral infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics that are commonly used in the treatment of other STIs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. Therefore, antiviral medication is needed to successfully treat genital herpes and help get rid of the associated symptoms.
What Causes Genital Herpes?
The HSV-2 type of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the primary cause of genital herpes, however, the other HSV-1 type that usually causes oral herpes (cold sores) can also cause genital herpes. The HSV is a viral infection where only antiviral medication is effective at treating the virus and suppressing the herpes outbreaks.
Genital herpes outbreaks typically last anywhere between a few days to up to 4 weeks. Often the first primary outbreak takes the longest to pass, where following outbreaks tend to be quicker to pass with often less severe symptoms. The frequency of outbreaks can vary, in some cases gential herpes outbreaks can occur multiple times in a year while in some cases years may pass without experiencing outbreaks or symptoms.
Genital herpes outbreaks can be triggered by certain environmental factors such as becoming unwell and having a weakened immune system, having a poor diet, excessive stress, exposure to ultraviolet light (from sunbeds) and friction around the genital area.
What are the symptoms of Genital Herpes?
Roughly 80% of those who have genital herpes do not experience symptoms. However, those that exhibit symptoms may experience:
- Small blisters that eventually burst and leave red, open sores around your genitals, rectum, thighs and buttocks.
- In women - blisters and ulcers around the cervix and vaginal discharge.
- Pain on urination.
- General aches, pains and feeling unwell.
Symptoms can last up to 20 days in some instances.
Symptoms for subsequent outbreaks are usually milder as your body produces antibodies in response to the virus. After the first episode, some people may experience warning signs that an outbreak is coming. Warning signs may include a tingling, burning or itching sensation around the genital area or sometimes down your leg. If you experience these warning signs, it is important to seek treatment immediately to help prevent and treat the onset of genital herpes symptoms.
How do you get Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is passed on through unprotected sexual intercourse where there is close skin to skin contact. Gential herpes can also be passed on even if contraception is used, while the risk is reduced, the use of contraception may not cover all areas that are affected by the HSV. The HSV-2 virus type is highly infectious because it is often asymptomatic, you can have the infection without realising because the symptoms do not necessarily show or are very mild.
You can also get genital herpes from HSV-1 infection. While this is not commonly the virus that causes genital herpes compared with HSV-2, oral sex with someone who have HSV-1 can result in genital herpes.
How long does Genital Herpes Last?
The HSV virus remains in the body permanently. However, symptoms are relatively rare with up to 80% of those with HSV not experiencing symptoms. Outbreaks can occur repeatedly in a year, with symptoms lasting up to 20 days in some cases. In order to reduce the frequency of genital herpes outbreaks and duration that the outbreaks last for, prescription medication treatment is highly recommended.
How do you treat the first outbreak of Genital Herpes?
The first genital herpes outbreak usually has the most severe symptoms and can last up to 20 days in some cases. In order to rapidly clear the first outbreak of genital herpes, taking antiviral genital herpes medication (e.g. Aciclovir) for a period of 5 days is highly recommended. This course of antiviral medication can be repeated for a further 5 days if necessary to help to clear the outbreak. The treatment of genital herpes symptoms is time dependent, the earlier treatment is taken the faster the outbreak can be cleared.
What should I do if I get another Genital Herpes outbreak?
There is a chance genital herpes can recur following the first outbreak, in some cases multiple times per year. Genital herpes outbreaks can be treated when they arise with antiviral medication, taken for a period of 5 days to help clear the infection.
If genital herpes outbreaks keep returning on a continual basis, suppression treatment may offer a more suitable and practical alternative. There is no one specific suppression medication to treat genital herpes, other than Famciclovir, each medication has a longer, suppression dosage available.
There are warning signs often associated with the onset of genital herpes that can help you to prepare for an imminent outbreak. These warning signs consist of a tingling, itching or burning sensation around the genital area or sometimes down your leg. It is important to seek antiviral treatment following these warning signs to make sure you treat the gential herpes outbreak as soon as possible.
How does suppression treatment work?
Genital herpes suppression treatment is effective at reducing the likelihood of genital herpes outbreaks from happening. Suppression treatment involves taking a daily dose of antiviral medication (Aciclovir, Valtrex or Valaciclovir) for a 3 month period. Suppression treatment is a useful option to consider if you experience regular genital herpes outbreaks.
Genital herpes suppression treatment works by preventing the virus from reproducing in the body, this helps to prevent or significantly reduce the risk of outbreaks from occurring. For example, Aciclovir has been shown to suppress genital herpes outbreaks for up to 80% of the time when taken correctly.