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What Are the Treatments for Herpes?

There is no cure for herpes, but medical providers can prescribe antiviral medications to help shorten or prevent outbreaks. You can also administer a number of simple, at-home remedies to help alleviate symptoms. Symptoms of oral and genital herpes often go away on their own within about two weeks.

Herpes Symptoms

Small, painful blisters can develop as a result of an oral or a genital herpes infection. These blisters eventually burst, leaving behind a sore that crusts over. Most sores heal on their own within about two weeks, so no treatment is necessary.

At-Home Remedies

Because herpes blisters and sores can be uncomfortable, you can try one or more of the following at-home remedies to alleviate your symptoms:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.
  • Apply a warm or cold compress to the sores to alleviate pain.
  • Wash sores gently with antiseptic soap and water to avoid spreading the virus.

For oral herpes (also known as cold sores), you might want to avoid hot drinks or foods that are spicy or salty. Eating popsicles and gargling cool water can also help relieve discomfort.

Those with genital herpes should wear loose-fitting cotton underwear and avoid wearing tight pants during outbreaks.

To ensure faster healing, do not bandage or pick at the sores. Only apply ointments or lotions that your medical provider or pharmacist have recommended.

Herpes Medication

Herpes is incurable and can cause recurring outbreaks. If you have frequent or severe symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication such as acyclovir, which can alleviate symptoms and help outbreaks resolve faster. Taking one of these antivirals daily might also reduce the frequency of your herpes outbreaks.

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