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Treatment Options for Genital Herpes

Treatment Options for Genital Herpes
Genital herpes treatment options are based on oral antiviral medications, taken under medical supervision. After initial outbreak treatment, episodic or suppressive genital herpes treatment is recommended for patients who have 6 or more incidences of herpes flare ups per year.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is responsible for causing herpes. Genital herpes is less common than oral herpes, and is reported in about 20 percent American adults. The main concern for both cases is, there is no cure for these viral infections. Once a person gets infected with this virus, it becomes a lifelong problem. However, effectual treatment options for genital herpes help in preventing the symptoms from getting worse, and quickening the healing process.

Genital Herpes: Signs and Symptoms

Incubation period of herpes simplex virus is between 2 days to 2 weeks. In most patients, notable symptoms of genital herpes are absent (which is not so in case of oral herpes). Thus, identifying infection and containment of this viral disease are very difficult. In fact, many people who have been infected by herpes virus are unaware of the infection, thus increasing the risk for spreading to their sexual partners. For symptomatic genital herpes, the notable signs and symptoms include:
Unusual discharge from the vagina
Burning sensation and itchiness in the genital area
Herpes sores in the affected genital portion and areas adjacent to it
Sore development in the urinary tract, causing painful urination
Running high temperature, which is indicative of infection
Swelling of glands in the groin
Considering the mode of transmission, genital herpes is categorized under sexually transmitted disease (STD). The causal pathogen is present in open sores and fluid filled blisters. Upon direct contact, it can be transmitted to the sexual partner. Any individual who experiences genital sores should get prompt treatment, as there is a high risk for exacerbation of symptoms and spreading to sexual partner. Treatment options for genital herpes depend on, whether the patient is having primary outbreak or recurrent flare ups.

Genital Herpes: Treatment Guidelines

The therapeutic techniques purported for genital herpes treatment are revolved around antiviral medications. Both oral and topical formulations are used for the purpose. However, oral antiviral drugs are found to be more reliable than the topical ones. The concerned doctor will recommend oral pills only, or both pills and ointments based on the severity of the symptoms. In patients with serious cases, antiviral formulation is delivered via intravenous injections.

In the present scenario, there are three antiviral drugs that are considered safe and effective for treating genital herpes. They are acyclovir (trade name Zovirax), famciclovir (trade name Famvir) and valacyclovir (trade name Valtrex). Of these, acyclovir is basically used for treating both primary infections and recurrent infections. On the other hand, famciclovir is suited for immunocompromised patients having frequent flare ups. And, valacyclovir is effectual for dealing with recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes. The strength of these pills varies, so is the recommended dosage.

Primary Outbreak Treatment
This refers to the type of genital herpes treatment received after the first outbreak of symptoms. Any of the three antiviral pills can be used for primary sore outbreak, but in different intake dosage. Say for instance, recommended dosage for acyclovir is 1200 mg daily (taken in 3 or 5 doses), dosage intake for famciclovir is 750 mg per day (administered in three doses) and for valacyclovir, it is 2 g daily (taken in two doses). Usually, the treatment duration lasts for one week to 10 days. With this initial treatment, most likely, the symptoms will subside gradually without causing complications. After completion of the first outbreak treatment, the concerned doctor may suggest further therapeutic approaches for managing genital herpes.

Episodic Treatment
Also known as intermittent therapy, it is one of the most common treatment options for genital herpes that recur frequently. Instead of daily popping antiviral pills, episodic treatment is followed as per requirement. In simple words, the patient administers antiviral medications at the first onset of genital herpes flare up symptoms, but not continuous daily treatment. The treatment period may continue for 3 - 5 days, based on the manifested symptoms. It is best suited for people, who have less frequent flare ups, accompanied with mild symptoms. Since medications are taken only when needed (not everyday), episodic treatment is less expensive than the suppressive therapy.

Suppressive Treatment
The suppressive therapy is indicated for patients, who experience genital sore flare ups for 6 times or more in a year. Over here, the patients are expected to pop an antiviral pill of specific dosage (say 500 mg valacyclovir) everyday. As the name goes, this treatment option for genital herpes is aimed at suppressing viral shedding and reducing the frequency of sore outbreaks. When followed stringently, suppressive therapy for genital herpes is effective for lowering the recurrent active disease episode by about 70 - 80 percent. Some patients achieve full suppression of sore outbreaks. Nevertheless, being on this genital herpes treatment doesn't mean that the virus can no longer spread to prospective sexual partners.

In addition to therapeutic intervention for genital sore outbreaks, patients should adopt genital herpes treatment at home as directed by the doctor. The point is to prevent spreading of virus to others. For this, a couple should not indulge in sexual intercourse during flare ups. Also, if a partner experiences frequent bouts of severe genital herpes, regular use of condoms is indicated along with suppressive therapy. As far as alternative treatment options for genital herpes are concerned, some herbal products and supplements are claimed to quicken healing period of sores. But, more clinical trials need to be done for proving the claims.