Genital Herpes Treatment

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The infection causes sores which can become painful, itchy blisters.

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Aciclovir Tablets 400mg

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Genital Herpes Treatments

You can buy genital herpes treatment online from Chemist Click, after completing a short online questionnaire. There is no cure for genital herpes, but treatments can help to reduce the length and severity of symptoms. You can also take treatment long term if you experience frequent outbreaks, to help reduce the number of flare-ups.

About genital herpes

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which causes painful sores around the genitals. It is spread through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, and oral), affecting both men and women.

Causes of genital herpes

How do you catch genital herpes?

Genital herpes is spread:

  • From skin-to-sin contact with an infected person during sex (vaginal, anal, and oral)
  • If your genitals encounter a cold sore
  • When the infection is transferred from fingers to the genitals
  • When you share sex toys with an infected person


Important note: Sores do not need to be present, for genital herpes to spread. There is a period before an outbreak, known as the prodromal stage, when a person is infectious, even when symptoms are not present.

Genital herpes is not spread:

  • Through sharing of objects such as cups or cutlery – as the virus cannot live very long when it is away from the skin.


What causes a herpes outbreak?

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. If you carry the virus, it will stay in your body.

The virus will not spread to other areas of your body and cause blisters. It will stay in a nerve near to the area it was contracted, and cause symptoms in the same area.

Common triggers that cause herpes outbreaks include:

  • Being unwell (such as having a cold or flu)
  • Stress
  • Periods
  • A weak immune system from medication or from a medical condition
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Friction in the affected area
  • Ultraviolet light (from the sun, or sunbeds)

Genital herpes symptoms

Symptoms of genital herpes include:

  • Blisters around the genitals, anus, thighs – blisters are fluid filled and eventually burst to leave open sores
  • Tingling, itching, or burning around the genital region
  • Pain when urinating
  • Unusual discharge


Suggested reading: Genital herpes symptoms & stages

The first outbreak is usually the most painful

Most genital herpes outbreaks last for one week, but the first outbreak can last up to 4 weeks. It is usually the most severe, with symptoms being more pronounced.

Other symptoms that you may experience during your first outbreak include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body ache
  • Swelling of lymph nodes in the groin


How long do genital herpes symptoms last for?

Genital herpes outbreaks usually last between 3-7 days. Taking antiviral tablets can help to reduce the length of an outbreak by 1-2 days.

Genital Herpes Diagnosis

Genital herpes test

The test for genital herpes involves swabbing the affected area and sending it to the lab for testing.

A swab is taken from the fluid of the sores, so the test can only be performed if you have visible blisters or sores.

You can order a herpes test kit from Chemist Click. The sample is sent to an NHS approved laboratory for testing. Results usually take 24 hours to process.

Genital herpes treatment

Genital herpes treatment will help to reduce the length and severity of symptoms.

Treatment can also be taken every day, for those that experience regular outbreaks. This is known as suppression therapy. It reduces the chances of getting an outbreak.

Important note: There is no cure for herpes. Genital herpes treatment can help to ease symptoms, but it will not get rid of the virus. To find out more, visit our guide: Is there a genital herpes cure?

Oral medication for genital herpes (outbreak)

The tablets used to treat genital herpes are aciclovir, valaciclovir, and famciclovir.

Aciclovir tablets

Dose to treat an outbreak of genital herpes – Take one tablet, three times a day for five days

Valaciclovir tablets

Dose to treat an outbreak of genital herpes – Take one tablet twice a day for five days

Oral medication for genital herpes (suppression)

Aciclovir tablets

Dose for genital herpes suppression treatment – Take one tablet two times a day

Valaciclovir tablets

Dose for genital herpes suppression treatment – Take one tablet daily

Genital herpes cream

There is not antiviral cream to treat genital herpes. Antiviral cream is only available to treat oral herpes. Topical treatments for genital herpes include numbing agents, such as lidocaine.

Is there a cure for genital herpes?

There is no cure for genital herpes.

With time, outbreaks usually become less frequent, and less severe. Some people do not get outbreaks.

If you suffer from regular outbreaks (six or more outbreaks a year); daily treatment, known as suppression treatment, can help to reduce the chances of having an outbreak.

Home remedies for genital herpes

  • Clean the area regularly with salt water to prevent infection
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to ease the pain
  • Use numbing agents such as lidocaine, to soothe pain when urinating
  • Pour warm water over your genitals whilst urinating, to help alleviate the pain
  • Avoid tight clothing that can irritate sores or blisters
  • Avoid touching the sores or blisters, especially if they are open


Important note: Avoid having sex whilst you are experiencing an outbreak, and for a days after they have disappeared.

How to prevent genital herpes

To lower the chances of contracting genital herpes:

  • Avoid sex if your partner is displaying symptoms of genital herpes
  • Avoid sharing sex toys
  • Use a condom

Yes, oral herpes caused by HSV-1 can spread through oral sex.

Yes, you can find out more by reading our guide on anal herpes.

Genital herpes affects around 10% of the UK population.

This can vary depending on the individual. Some people can go months or years without having an outbreak. Some people will never get an outbreak.

No, there is currently no vaccine for genital herpes.

No, genital herpes treatments are prescription only medications.

Antiviral treatments can help to heal sores faster. To find out more, read our guide on how to heal herpes sores faster.

Genital herpes can cause a discharge, which many people describe as having a “fishy” odour. This predominantly affects women, more than men.

More information is available on our guides:

Recurrent outbreaks can be treated with suppression therapy. Taking an antiviral tablet daily can help to reduce the chances of getting an outbreak.

Yes, this is known as a false positive.

Yes – Even if a person does not have symptoms, they may have a high viral load. This means that the infection is progressing, and they are contagious.

No, you will not die from genital herpes.

Factors that can induce an outbreak include stress, being run down, a low immune system, certain medication, and high exposure to ultraviolet light.

If you have acquired genital herpes before your pregnancy, there is an extremely low chance that it will be passed onto your child. This is because your body has built up antibodies in order to fight the virus. These antibodies are provisionally given to your baby through the placenta during pregnancy. So, even if there are genital sores around the vagina during birth, the antibodies are a form of protection for the baby. It is important to let your doctor know, so that extra measures can be taken in order to protect the new born.

Women who develop herpes later on in their pregnancy however, are at an increased chance of passing the virus onto their child. This is because the immune system has not built up antibodies as a form of protection to fight the virus, meaning that the baby is able to contract herpes. This potentially can be dangerous and potentially life threatening for the child. If you have contracted genital herpes at any point during your pregnancy, you should see your doctor immediately.

Yes – this is known as cold sores. Herpes on the mouth is usually caused by HSV-1. Whilst HSV-2 predominantly affects the genitals, it is possible to contract either one from oral sex.

Genital warts is caused by the HPV virus, and genital herpes is caused by the HSV virus.

Genital herpes causes blisters that are fluid filled and burst, whereas genital warts cause raised bumps which do not fill with fluid. Herpes sores are usually red, whilst genital warts are usually white.

To find out more, read our guide: What does herpes look like?.

No, your fertility is not affected by genital herpes, but you should let your doctor know if you are pregnant and have genital herpes. This is because an outbreak at the time of childbirth can potentially be dangerous for the child and you may need to take suppressive therapy in the run up to giving birth.

It is possible to contract herpes from someone who has the virus, regardless of whether they are experiencing an outbreak or not. Someone who has genital herpes is most contagious when an outbreak is about to begin, during an outbreak, or shortly after one has finished. The chances of contracting or passing on herpes are lower in between outbreaks, but there is still a chance of contracting the virus, even though symptoms may not be present.

Genital herpes first present as small red blisters which eventually fill up with liquid, taking on a yellow colour. The blisters then burst open, leaving sores within the genitals and anal region. Blisters can also appear on the thigh and buttock region. The severity of the blisters differs between individuals. Some may encounter multiple blisters, whereas others may have one single sore only. Sometimes the symptoms may be so mild that they go unnoticed. 

To find out more, read our article 'What does genital herpes look like?'.

Yes, it can be. While many people experience no symptoms, when sores do develop, they can be painful. 

Blisters around the area of infection can itch and tingle, and then turn into open sores. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms during their first outbreak, such as fever, muscle aches, headache and swollen lymph nodes in the groin.


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