What should I do if I think I have herpes?
See your doctor as soon as possible. Herpes is easier to diagnose when there are sores. You can start treatment sooner and perhaps have less pain with the infection.
Is there a cure for herpes?
No. But medicines can help. The medicine acyclovir can speed up healing and can lessen the pain of herpes for many people.
Acyclovir pills can treat primary or recurrent herpes and can stop or lessen the number of recurrences. Acyclovir also comes in a cream to put on sores during the primary stage or during recurrences.
Famciclovir and valacyclovir are other medicines used to treat recurrent genital herpes and for prevention of recurrences.
Tips to soothe the pain
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (some brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin).
- Place lukewarm or cool cloths on the sore place.
- Take lukewarm baths. (A woman may urinate in the tub at the end of the bath if she is having pain urinating -- this may help dilute the urine so it doesn't burn the sores so badly.)
- Keep the area dry and clean.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
What if I have herpes and become pregnant?
If you have genital herpes and are considering pregnancy or are pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor. He or she may give you an antiviral medicine so you will be less likely to have a herpes outbreak at or near the time you deliver your baby. If you do have an outbreak of genital herpes at the time of delivery, your doctor will most likely deliver your baby by cesarean section. With a cesarean section, the risk of giving herpes to your baby is small.
What if I get herpes during pregnancy?
If you have your first genital herpes outbreak during pregnancy, you should tell your doctor. Your doctor may want to treat you with an antiviral medicine. The risk of your baby getting herpes is much higher if you have your first genital herpes outbreak near the time of delivery.
It is important to avoid getting herpes during pregnancy. If your partner has herpes and you do not have it, be sure to use condoms during sexual intercourse at all times. Your partner could pass the infection to you even if he is not currently experiencing an outbreak. If there are visible sores, avoid having sex completely until the sores have healed.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff