Antiviral medications are the only known treatment for genital herpes, although these medications do not cure the condition. There is no known cure for herpes infection, but antiviral drugs have been developed that can reduce the severity and length of outbreaks. Antiviral medications are taken by mouth or, in certain situations, are given intravenously. There are few effective medications that can be applied topically to the blisters of genital herpes, and these medications are not commonly used since oral medications are more effective.
What Are Medications for Genital Herpes?
Acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex) are examples of antiviral drugs that have been used to treat genital herpes. Because the first outbreak of herpes is usually the most severe, most doctors recommend treatment for the initial attack. With subsequent attacks, treatment is only useful if it is given prior to the outbreak or within the first 24 hours after the outbreak has started.
Suppressive treatment is also given for people who have more than six genital herpes outbreaks a year. With suppressive therapy, antiviral medications are taken continuously in order to lessen the frequency of recurrences.
Your doctor can help you decide whether antiviral drug treatment is right for you and can guide the choice of drug.
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
CDC.gov. Genital Herpes Treatment.