Herpes Treatment

  • Register with iGP
  • Complete assessment
  • diagnosis & treatment
Back to illnesses

Herpes

Start a diagnosis

Before you start a diagnosis, please read all of the information below.

Genital herpes is usually a sexually transmitted viral infection. Many people infected with this virus never have symptoms, but can still pass on the infection to others. Genital herpes is an infection of the genitals (penis in men, vulva, and vagina in women) and the surrounding area of skin. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus. The buttocks and anus may also be affected.

The first episode of symptoms can last 2-3 weeks but may be shorter. The virus remains in your body and can become active from time to time causing recurrent symptoms which are usually less severe than the first episode. Antiviral medication can ease symptoms when they develop.

Herpes is very contagious and passes to others through direct skin to skin contact such as sex. The virus passes easily through the moist membranes that line the genitals, mouth, and anus. It can be passed on even when the person has no symptoms. However, if the infected person has sores, then it passes on more readily.

Most people who carry the virus are unaware that they have it. There are often no symptoms at the beginning, and they may not occur for months or years afterwards. 

There is no cure for genital herpes, but the symptoms can be managed with antiviral medications. Treatments we may prescribe if clinically appropriate:

Please see Common Treatments below for further information.

If you have greater than six outbreaks in a year or have particularly severe recurrent outbreaks, then you may benefit from taking long-term antivirals for 6 to 12 months. This is called suppressive therapy for herpes.


Common Symptoms

  • The first signs are often tingling, burning or itching in the genital or leg area.
  • Painful red blisters then appear around the genital area, thighs and buttocks.
  • The blisters burst leaving sores.
Common Treatments

Possible treatments for an acute outbreak of herpes we prescribe if clinically appropriate:

  • Aciclovir 200mg one tablet five times a day: 5-day course (£0.99*)
  • Valaciclovir 500mg twice a day: 5-day course (£2.84*)

Possible treatments for suppressive treatment of herpes we prescribe if clinically appropriate:

  • Aciclovir 400mg twice a day: 2-month course (£5.70*)

As part of our safeguarding vulnerable people procedures, you will be required to show photo identification to the pharmacy dispenser when you collect your medication.


*Prices shown are cost price of the medication, taken from the British National Formulary 2018, and are given as a guideline. Pharmacies will add a dispensing fee to this which will vary considerably, so it is worthwhile phoning around to compare prices. The medication is paid for at your chosen pharmacy. 

Please click on the medication above to read the Patient Information Leaflet for important information about each drug. We use national prescribing guidelines to select which treatment would be most appropriate for your condition. 

Self-help for the symptoms

To help ease your symptoms, you may wish to try the following:

Wear loose clothing

  • to avoid irritating the sores.

Saltwater

  • To keep the area clean which will improve healing and reduce the likelihood of infection.

Ice packs wrapped in a cloth

  • to help soothe the pain (do not apply ice directly to the skin).

Vaseline or local anaesthetic cream

  • to help with the pain.
  • wash your hands before and after application. 

Keep well hydrated

  • this keeps your urine diluted to reduce discomfort when passing it.
Information about aciclovir

There is no cure for genital herpes but the symptoms can be managed with antiviral medications. 

Aciclovir is an antiviral tablet. Please read the manufacturers leaflet inside the pack which will give you more information about the medication and the full list of side effects you may experience.

Aciclovir can be taken either with or without food. Try to space out your doses evenly over the day, and complete the full course of treatment. Drink plenty of water as it is important that you don't become dehydrated. Keep taking the Aciclovir until the full course is finished (unless a doctor tells you to stop), even if you feel that the infection has cleared up.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue as before. However, do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

Avoid sex until the symptoms have cleared up and use a condom afterwards to help prevent passing on the virus.

Never give your medication to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Possible side effects to aciclovir

Most types of medicines can cause potential side effects. However, not everyone will experience them. The side effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but if any of them continue or become troublesome then speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

Aciclovir may cause increased sensitivity of your skin to sunlight whilst taking the medication. Avoid strong sunlight and using sunbeds and use a high SPF sun cream.

Common side effects (which may affect 1 in 10 people) include:

  • nausea, vomiting or a stomachache
    • avoid fatty or spicy foods
  • itchy rash
  • headache
    • drink lots of water and take paracetamol
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness or fatigue
    • avoid driving or using machinery until the symptoms settle
Information about valaciclovir

There is no cure for genital herpes but the symptoms can be managed with antiviral medications. 

Before starting any medication, please read the manufacturers leaflet inside the pack which will give you more information about the medication and the full list of side effects you may experience.

Valaciclovir works by reducing the severity of the infection and stopping the virus from spreading. It is broken down into aciclovir in the body.

Valaciclovir can be taken either with or without food. Try to space out your doses evenly over the day, and complete the full course of treatment. Drink plenty of water as it is important that you don't become dehydrated. Keep taking the medication until the full course is finished (unless a doctor tells you to stop), even if you feel that the infection has cleared up.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue as before. However, do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

Avoid sex until the symptoms have cleared up and use a condom afterwards to help prevent passing on the virus.

Never give your medication to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Possible side effects to valaciclovir

Most types of medicines can cause potential side effects. However, not everyone will experience them. The side effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but if any of them continue or become troublesome then you may contact us, or speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

Valaciclovir may cause increased sensitivity of your skin to sunlight whilst taking the medication. Avoid strong sunlight and using sunbeds and use a high SPF sun cream.

Common side effects (which may affect 1 in 10 people) include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomachache
    • avoid fatty or spicy foods
  • itchy rash
  • headache
    • drink lots of water and take paracetamol
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness or fatigue
    • avoid driving or using machinery until the symptoms settle
  • itching or a skin rash
Allergic reaction to medications

An itchy rash, swollen face or mouth, or difficulty in breathing, may be signs that you are allergic to the medication. 

Please note that i-GP DOES NOT TREAT Medical Emergencies. 

If you develop a sudden onset of any of the symptoms below then you must STOP the medication immediately and seek urgent medical advice. This could be from your GP, Out of Hours Service, Urgent Care Centre or NHS 111. Call an ambulance or go to A&E if the symptoms are severe.

  • Wheeze
  • Difficulty in Breathing
  • Swelling of the eyelids, face or lips
  • A rash particularly if affecting your entire body

 

Triggers for recurrences

Trigger factors for recurrent outbreaks may include:

  • being unwell
  • friction during sex
  • stress
  • sunbeds (exposure to uv light)
  • weakened immune system
  • excess alcohol
Find sexual health services near you

Please use the following links to find your nearest Sexual Health/ GUM clinic.

You can call the national sexual health helpline free on 0300 123 7123 for further advice if you are worried.


SH:24 is a free online sexual health service, delivered in partnership with the NHS. They provide free test kits, information and, advice - 24 hours a day.

Help for Abuse

What is abuse?

Abuse is anything another person does that's meant to cause harm. But it's not always easy to know what's abuse or what to do about it.

There are many types of abuse from physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or domestic. Abuse is always wrong and must be stopped. It is important to take the first step and seek help. If you are in immediate danger call 999.

You can find out more about the types of abuse and where you can access help on the YoungMinds Website.


 

Domestic violence and abuse

If you are experiencing domestic violence or know of someone that may be experiencing abuse that may need help or support then you can contact the following 


Help after rape or sexual assault

Please see the NHS website for further information.

  • In an emergency call 999
  • You can contact the non-emergency police number 101
  • Or call NHS 111 for further advice

For specialist medical attention and sexual violence support, you would need to be seen at a sexual assault referral centre (SARC). You can find your nearest one here.


 

Childline

Childline is there to help anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through. Whether it’s something big or small, or are worried that you may be going through abuse, their trained counsellors are there to support you.

Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night. You can talk to them:

  • by calling 0800 1111
  • by email
  • through a 121 Webchat

If you are worried about a child, don't wait until you are certain. If you have any concerns or suspicions, contact the NSPCC free helpline service to speak to an NSPCC counsellor 24/7 or report your concern online here.

If you think a child is in immediate danger don't delay – call the police on 999.


Modern Slavery Helpline

If you think you are a victim of modern slavery/human trafficking contact the modern slavery helpline. They can help you to understand what is available including information, advice and, ways to access government-funded support. The Modern Slavery Helpline is confidential, but, if you don't want to give your name, that is fine. Find out more here.

Call free 24/7 on 08000 121 700 to get help, report a suspicion or seek advice.


Female genital mutilation (FGM)

FGM is abuse and illegal under the UK law. All girls and women have the right to a life free from pain, period problems and difficulties with childbirth that are caused by female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation, female circumcision or ‘cutting’ may cause serious health and emotional consequences that last a lifetime. You can stop it. For advice, support or to report it, call the free 24-hour anonymous FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550. Find out more about it here.


Protecting young people from sexual

exploitation

It is important that young people are kept safe from sexual exploitation. Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact and can happen online. It can be stopped and it is everyone's responsibility to report any concerns.

Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime and can be difficult to identify. Young people often trust their abuser and don't understand that they're being abused. They may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what's happening. You can find out more about here.

If you are worried about a child then contact the NSPCC trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Watch the NSPCC video sharing the story of a young person who has been groomed and sexually exploited.

Start a herpes diagnosis

Do you think you require treatment for genital herpes?


We could diagnose and send you a treatment plan with a prescription, if appropriate, within an hour. You can collect your medication from your chosen pharmacy.