Treatment and Therapy
There is no treatment to cure herpes. However, there are medications that can help keep the virus in check. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved three prescription medicines for herpes treatment.

Acyclovir (Zovirax®) has been used for over 10 years and is now available in generic form.

Valacyclovir (Valtrex®) uses acyclovir as its active ingredient, is better absorbed by the body and can be taken less often.

Famciclovir (Famvir®) is similar to acyclovir and is also better absorbed and can be taken less often

Clinical studies have not found any major difference in effectiveness of these three drugs. Their main difference is in how often the drug must be taken. Acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir are available in capsules or tablets. Acyclovir and famciclovir are available in cream for use in oral herpes cases. Topical creams are not recommended for genital herpes.

The drugs disrupt the virus' ability to reproduce. All are safe and have almost no side effects.

Episodic or Suppressive Therapy: Your Choice

Episodic therapy means taking the medication only during an outbreak to speed healing. Your doctor will prescribe treatment to take at the first sign of prodrome and continue treatment for five days. For first episodes, the healing time can be dramatically reduced. For recurrences, the outbreak can be shortened by about two days. If you choose episodic therapy, fill your prescription and have it ready before an outbreak so you can begin taking the medication immediately.

Suppressive therapy means taking an antiviral medication daily as a preventative--to keep HSV in check, reduce flare ups and lessen symptoms. Suppressive therapy can lower the number of outbreaks and, for some, prevent them altogether. This therapy also reduces asymptomatic shedding, and research studies are determining whether on-going antiviral medication can help prevent transmission.

People who have just been diagnosed with herpes regain a feeling of control over their lives with antiviral medication. It also brings great relief to people who have frequent or bothersome outbreaks. However, many people with herpes don't feel the need to take medication because their outbreaks are mild. Remember that each person is different. Talk with your doctor or nurse about what is best for you.