Individuals who experience herpes outbreak use antivirals as herpes medication to relieve the symptoms of the infection. These medications work by lessening the severity and length of flare-ups. While taking antiviral drugs do not cure the infection, it can go a long way in managing the symptoms.
The three most commonly prescribed antiviral medications for the treatment of genital herpes are valacyclovir (Valtrex), acyclovir (Zovirax), and famciclovir (Famvir). While herpes medication is typically taken orally, individuals with a severe case of herpes sometimes need to take acyclovir intravenously.
Timeline for Herpes Medication
When patients experience their first outbreak and get diagnosed with herpes, the first course of treatment involves the use of antivirals for a week or up to 10 days to control the symptoms. If your first outbreak is stubborn, you may need to stay on an antiviral for longer. Depending on your case, your physician can choose between two therapy protocols; it can either be periodic therapy or suppressive therapy.
Periodic or intermittent therapy involves the use of an antiviral whenever you break out in sores. While most people’s herpes sores improve and go away on their own, taking an antiviral during an outbreak speeds up the recovery process and reduces the severity of symptoms. On the other hand, suppressive treatment entails a daily regimen for those who experience outbreaks frequently and severely. In most cases, those who are placed on a once-daily regimen of antivirals never experience any outbreaks.
Doctors also don’t necessarily recommend suppressive therapy. The decision to start suppressive therapy is based on the number of outbreaks per year and its severity.
A once-daily suppressive treatment also lowers patients’ risk of passing the virus on to another individual during sexual intercourse. Antiviral medications control and decrease viral shedding, which is when the virus multiplies in certain parts of the skin.
According to a study comprised of individuals with herpes who take valacyclovir daily, the risk of transmission during sex is much lower while on this antiviral drug. That said, about 50% of the sexual partners of those with the virus ended up getting infected in the study. Furthermore, over 70% of those did not exhibit any herpes symptoms despite having contracted the virus.
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