A dermatologist can usually diagnose a herpes sore by looking at it and taking a swab from the sore. Lab tests can determine whether the sore contains the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is the cause for genital herpes.
For people who do not have a sore or any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not recommend testing.
Suncoast Skin Solutions, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski, provides advanced dermatology treatments to patients in Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and surrounding locations.
How is genital herpes treated?
While there is no cure for genital herpes, treatment may be helpful. Self-care can offer relief from symptoms and help the sores heal. Medication can decrease the duration of an outbreak as well as relieve symptoms.
Self-Care for Genital Herpes
Dermatologists recommend the below self-care tips to their patients who have experienced a flare-up:
- Ensure that the sores are clean and dry
- Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear
- If there is pain in an area, apply a cold press to it
- To cleanse and soothe painful sores, decrease itchiness, or reduce tenderness, the patient can take Epsom salts bath, soaking for between 10 and 20 minutes.
Medicine for Genital Herpes
The dermatologist may prescribe one of the following antiviral medicines to treat genital herpes:
- Acyclovir (ā-sike-low-veer)
- Famciclovir (fam-see-clo-veer)
- Penciclovir (pen-sike-low-veer)
- Valacyclovir (val-ā-sike-low veer)
It is recommended that anyone with a weakened immune system take medicine. People with a weakened immune system will likely need help to eliminate the sores and symptoms. The symptoms may linger, and sores may not clear without medication.
The patient should continue to take the medication until all sores are fully healed. If one of the above mentioned medications does not bring relief, the patient may require another drug. Getting acyclovir through an IV may be required for a severe infection. Other antiviral drugs may also be an option.
Antiviral Medicine can be Taken Daily
Taking an antiviral medication on a daily basis is effective for some people as they have:
- Frequent flare-ups
- A partner who does not have the virus
A patient can have new outbreaks even if they treat an outbreak. Certain people have multiple outbreaks annually. In case a person experiences six or more outbreaks a year, the dermatologist or another doctor may recommend taking antiviral medication daily.
If taken daily, this medication can reduce how frequently a person develops an outbreak. Studies indicate that it is safe to take every day and can reduce outbreaks by 70 to 80 percent.
A Partner Who Does Not Have the Virus
In case the patient’s partner does not have the virus that causes genital herpes, taking antiviral medication daily can reduce the risk of passing the virus to their sexual partner.
Despite taking medicine, a person can still pass the virus on to their partner. Patients can reduce this risk by avoiding sex when they have sores and wearing a condom when they do not.
In case a patient decides to take medication daily, they will likely take it every day for at least one year. At the end of one year, the dermatologist or another doctor should assess the patient to determine if they still need to take an antiviral daily.
Dr. Ewanowski’s skin care clinic receives patients from Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and nearby areas for dermatologic as well as medical spa procedures.
SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz (2 locations), Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, Largo at Bardmoor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Palm Harbor, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.