There is no cure for genital herpes . However, you can control the symptoms and prevent some future outbreaks. Medicine that is used to control the symptoms is called outbreak or episodic therapy. Medication that is used to prevent future outbreaks is called suppressive therapy.

Keep in mind that even when you are taking medicine for an outbreak, you are still contagious. You can still infect your partner or your baby. Suppressive therapy may reduce your risk of infecting others, but it will not eliminate this risk entirely.

Episodic Therapy

When you begin to experience any early symptoms of a genital herpes outbreak, you can take medicine to control the severity and the duration of the symptoms. You take the medicine only when you are experiencing the symptoms to make you more comfortable.

Suppressive Therapy

Suppressive therapy is used to prevent future outbreaks of genital herpes. This involves taking the medicine every day to help suppress or prevent the outbreaks before they occur. You may want to take suppressive therapy if you tend to have outbreaks frequently.

There are three medicines available for episodic and suppressive therapy for genital herpes. All of these are antiviral medicines—medicines capable of weakening the virus.

The medicines for episodic and suppressive treatment of genital herpes include:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax) —This medicine is available as a cream or as a pill (taken orally). However, studies have found that it is most effective when taken as a pill. It is used to treat herpes simplex virus infections of the skin, including genital herpes. It is also used for the suppression of recurrent herpes.
  • Famciclovir (Famvir) —This medicine, available in pill form, is approved for the treatment of genital herpes when the symptoms occur. As few as two doses of famciclovir, taken at the first signs of recurrence, have been shown to be effective in reducing the duration and severity of an outbreak. It is also used for suppressive treatment of recurrent outbreaks.
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex) —This medicine, available in pill form, is approved for the episodic treatment and suppression of genital herpes outbreaks. Valacyclovir has also been found to prevent transmission of the virus. It can be particularly useful in suppressing frequent recurrences when given soon after the initial episode.