Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Medications cannot cure genital herpes. They only help in reducing the discomfort and pain by speeding up the natural healing activity of the immune system.Reducing the severity of the infection and rapidly healing the sores are the primary goals of genital herpes treatment with antiviral drugs. To prevent an outbreak, you may take these drugs as soon as you experience the early symptoms of a possible genital herpes outbreak.
If you are prone to frequent genital herpes flare-ups, your doctor may ask you to take an antiviral drug daily as part of the suppressive therapy. Suppressive therapies with antiviral drugs are often effective in reducing the frequency and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. In some cases, suppressive therapy can completely stop the genital herpes flare-ups. Moreover, suppressive therapy reduces the risk of transmission of the viral infection during sex.
Medications To Treat Genital Herpes
Acyclovir is the oldest and most effective anti-viral drug used for treating genital herpes. It belongs to a class of medications known as synthetic nucleoside analogues. By stopping the growth and multiplication of the herpes simplex virus, it helps to cure the sores. However, acyclovir cannot cure genital herpes. When used for a short time, it cannot prevent transmission of the viral infection during sexual intercourse. Available in the form of tablets and suspension, acyclovir should be taken orally two to five times each day with or without food for about five to ten days, or as directed by the physician.
The dosage and duration of the treatment depends on the severity of the infection and risk of further outbreaks. The drug may be administered intravenously to treat severe genital herpes infection. Acyclovir is safe for pregnant women. This antiviral drug may be taken for a year to prevent another outbreak. In some cases, it may be used for a longer time. Although resistance to acyclovir is rare, nonetheless, it is advisable to complete the course of the drug. People on acyclovir should drink plenty of water. Possible side effects of the antiviral drug include stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, agitation, joint pain, tiredness, vision change and hair loss.
Famciclovir is one of the new antiviral drugs that suppress spread of genital herpes virus. As it is easily absorbed in the stomach, small doses of the drug are sufficient for healing the symptoms of genital herpes. For best results, one dose of the drug should be taken within six hours after the early symptoms of the viral infection, such as burning, tingling or itching of the affected area, appear.
Usually, famciclovir is taken thrice daily for a week. To prevent recurrent outbreaks, the antiviral drug may be taken twice daily for a year. Possible side effects of famciclovir include nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, painful menstruation, itching and rash.
Valacyclovir is an effective antiviral that stops growth of the herpes simplex virus. It is easily absorbed in the stomach, thereby healing the sores within a short time. Valacyclovir tablets are usually taken twice daily for five days for treating genital herpes.
Long-term use of the drug prevents recurrent genital herpes outbreak and significantly diminishes the risk of transmission of the infection. Vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea or constipation and headache are possible side effects of the drug.