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Is There a Cure for Herpes?

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Is There a Cure for Herpes?

writtenByWritten by: Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan has a background in geochemical research and enjoys writing on technical subjects like health and science. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.

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September 11, 2018 Read Time - 3 minutes

Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are curable. But is there a cure for herpes?

Unfortunately the answer is no.

Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are bacterial infections whereas herpes is viral, and viral infections are much more difficult to develop cures for. Gonorrhea for example, can be cured by a single dose of antibiotics, but viruses exist within a cell of the body and are thus more protected than bacterial infections.

There are cures for some viruses (e.g. measles and mumps), but the herpes simplex virus hides from the immune system (the herpes virus can remain dormant in the body for years without signs or symptoms).

Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system, but if the immune system can’t find its target, then stimulation doesn’t help.

Is a Cure for Herpes Possible?

Several clinical trials for a herpes vaccine in humans have been initiated in the past, but were canceled due to various technical and financial difficulties (herpes is a complicated virus). Research continues on HSV vaccines, but the current hope for these is to reduce outbreaks and limit transmittance.

Gene editing is starting to be applied towards curing viral infections such as HSV and could potentially provide a way to help those who have already been diagnosed. Dr. Keith Jerome of the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center who conducts such research believes that, “ultimately a cure is inevitable.”

New microbicide treatments for herpes are being investigated including tenofovir gel and siRNA nanoparticles.

Treatments for Herpes Simplex Virus

Is there a cure for herpes? No, but antiviral medications exist that can help treat the symptoms. Doctors will typically prescribe antiviral medications, these reduce the pain and discomfort of herpes symptoms, or help reduce the chance of an outbreak. The most common prescriptions for herpes are:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Reducing outbreaks and avoiding skin contact during outbreaks can help reduce the chances of transmitting HSV. However, viral shedding can occur without symptoms and HSV can be transferred even if symptoms are not present.

If you think you might have herpes, or if you are sexually active with a partner who has it, book a PlushCare appointment now. We can answer any questions you have via phone, laptop or mobile device, and you do not have to wait a long time to talk to one of our world-class doctors.

Book an appointment now

At Home Treatments for Herpes Simplex Virus

Outbreaks of symptoms can be onset by a number of environmental and physiological factors such as:

  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Menstruation
  • Illness
  • Intercourse
  • Weather (UV rays, cold, heat, or wind)

To help reduce the transfer of HSV: minimize the chance of an outbreak by getting good rest, reducing stress, eat healthy foods to help you immune system, and protect yourself from harsh weather (e.g. sun, wind, hot, and cold).

At home treatments and over-the-counter medications can be used to help with symptoms of HSV. These include:

  • Painkillers (e.g. acetaminophin, aspirin, ibuprofen).
  • Icing the area(s) that are affected (or a cold compress).
  • Getting sufficient rest.
  • Air circulation (wearing loose fitting clothes to aid genital outbreaks).
  • Rinsing with warm salt water.

Think you may be experiencing a herpes outbreak?

Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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